After keeping workers and communities safe and healthy for the past two years while preserving B.C.’s food supply, the quarantine program for seasonal agricultural temporary foreign workers will be ending.
With the easing of federal travel restrictions and 97% of incoming workers being fully vaccinated against COVID-19, B.C.’s Temporary Foreign Worker Quarantine Program will end on Thursday, March 31, 2022. Arriving workers will travel directly to their farms and it will be the employer’s responsibility to ensure federal quarantine requirements are met for those who are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated.
Support for the self-isolation of temporary foreign workers through the B.C. Farm Worker Safe Isolation Program will continue to be available to farmers. The program reimburses employers to a maximum of $3,000 per farm worker, based on a 14-day isolation period, for costs associated with providing accommodation and other supports to workers who need to self-isolate.
The provincially funded quarantine program represents a $47-million investment to help protect B.C.’s food security during the pandemic by ensuring farms had access to the labour they needed and local food continued to be grown and harvested.
The quarantine program is seen as a best practice by other jurisdictions and included funding for accommodations, culturally appropriate meals, laundry, volunteer-led wellness walks, interpretation and translation services, health screening and other necessary supports.
More than 15,000 workers went through the program with 233 workers diagnosed with COVID-19 while in quarantine. This shows the important role the program played in preventing workers with symptoms from travelling to farms and communities or causing larger outbreaks, as well as preventing associated economic losses and interruptions to the B.C. food supply.
- The B.C. Farm Worker Safe Isolation Program is a federal-provincial program funded by B.C.’s Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries, and the Public Health Agency of Canada.
- The program runs until March 31, 2023.
- All farms providing housing to temporary foreign workers are required to have an infection control and prevention protocol in place prior to worker arrival.
- B.C. anticipates returning to pre-pandemic numbers for seasonal agricultural temporary foreign workers in 2022, which is approximately 11,000 workers.
Quarantine information for foreign agricultural, food and seafood workers who are not fully vaccinated: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/industry/agriculture-seafood/covid-19-response/temporary-foreign-farmworkers
B.C. Farm Worker Safe Isolation Program: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/industry/agriculture-seafood/programs/bc-farm-worker-safe-isolation-program