COVID-19 (2019 Novel Coronavirus)

Temporary Foreign Workers

This page provides important information for owners and operators of farms who employ temporary foreign workers (TFWs).

Owners and operators of farms, who employ temporary foreign workers (TFWs), must support and protect TFWs currently employed and living in housing provided by the farm owner/operator and TFWs who may arrive for work.

Travel restriction exemptions for TFWs are now in place. Newly arriving TFWs are now permitted to enter Canada. Like all travellers, including Canadian citizens and permanent residents, TFWs entering Canada by air, land or sea MUST:

  • have their health checked
  • isolate for 14 days upon arrival in Canada

The 14-day isolation period is mandatory even if workers show no symptoms.

Lambton Public Health works to ensure suitable housing is provided for both domestic and foreign migrant workers to protect worker health and safety. Public health inspectors complete annual inspections to ensure owners of these homes follow Ontario Ministry of Health recommendations.

For any concerns or complaints related to seasonal housing accommodations or to schedule a seasonal housing inspection, please call the Lambton Public health at 519-383-8331. Find out more about Ontario’s Guidance for Temporary Foreign Workers.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is there something employers of Temporary Foreign Workers (TFWs) need to do to prevent the spread of COVID-19?

Develop an emergency response plan to manage your workforce and enable employees to self-isolate during arrival and if they exhibit symptoms or test positive for COVID-19.

• Due to the number of individuals who typically reside in seasonal housing accommodations, you may be required to provide alternative housing arrangements for ill employees. Ensure medical care is available if needed.
Enhance cleaning and disinfection in living quarters, work areas, and other common areas immediately. The employer is expected to provide the cleaning materials. A log should be maintained.

How do TFWs self-isolate?

The employer must house self-isolating TFWs in accommodations separate from those not subject to self-isolation. They may be required to find alternate accommodations (i.e. a hotel) if this requirement cannot be met.

Learn more about self isolation.

The employer should also have a plan in place to guarantee groceries and essential goods for workers during the quarantine period.

What happens when new TFWs arrive and there are other TFWs already self-isolating?

If new TFWs are housed for self-isolation in the same accommodations as others who are self-isolating, the clock resets to the day the most recent TFW arrived to account for the potential exposure of the new person from outside of the country to those already here.

Can the TFW work during the self-isolation period?

The employer cannot authorize the TFW to work during the self-isolation period, even if requested by the TFW. Also, the employer cannot ask the TFW to perform other duties during that period, such as building repairs or administrative tasks.

Who monitors the health of the TFWs?

The employer is responsible for regularly monitoring the health of TFWs who are self-isolating, as well as, any TFW who becomes sick after the self-isolation period. The employer can communicate with the TFW on a daily basis (i.e. call, text, e-mail or in-person 2 m away) during the self-isolation period and ask if he/she is experiencing any symptoms; maintain a record of the responses. Here’s a list of symptoms.

The TFWs must feel confident in self-reporting sickness. Tell the TFWs, who may become sick during the season, how they will be supported during recovery, and how their employment will be protected.

What should the employer do if a TFW becomes symptomatic for COVID-19?

If a TFW becomes symptomatic at any time the TFW cannot attend work and must isolate within the housing accommodation (if possible). Refer to the Guide for Caregiver, Household members and Close Contacts for additional information on public health precautions. If the TFW is unable to adequately isolate from other housemates, alternate arrangement must be made. If COVID-19 is suspected or diagnosed in a TFW, return to work should be determined in consultation with their employer, health-care provider and Lambton Public Health.

What information should be provided to TFWs about COVID-19?

TFWs should be provided with information on how to regularly self-monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 and how to perform a self-assessment if they become ill.

Here’s how employees can prevent the risks of COVID-19.

Is the employer responsible to provide materials that TFWs can use to practise good hygiene?

The employer must ensure that all TFWs have the tools needed to practise good hygiene. This includes access to facilities for hand washing, providing soap and/or an alcohol based sanitizer if soap and water are not available and hands are not visibly soiled. This must also be provided in field locations.

The Agri-food Workplace Protection Program provides funding opportunities to help farmers enhance health and safety measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

What if a TFW is not respecting the mandatory self-isolation period?

If a TFW is not respecting the mandatory self-isolation period, the employer is asked to report the violation to the Quarantine Act to local law enforcement.

How should TFWs be transported to housing and worksites?

Transportation must be arranged by the employer that would ensure TFWs remain isolated from the general population while in transit to their housing and worksites. No public transit is required.