Veal Farmers of Ontario (VFO) is closely monitoring global developments related to the pandemic, and will post updates here as they are made available. In addition, any significant developments related to the veal sector will be shared via email and social media.

Statements

March 17, 2020 – VFO Statement: Update on COVID-19

April 13, 2020 – CCA: COVID-19 Reduces North American Beef Processing Capacity

Industry resources 

*updated* COVID-19: farmer toolkit

This online toolkit aims to be a “one-stop shop” for farm operators on guidance, resources and information related to prevention, control, testing and outbreak management support. Get access to agriculture-specific resources, find out how to prevent a COVID-19  outbreak on your farm and how your workers can get tested here.

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) has launched a page to share information related to the COVID-19 situation; it contains a specific link for industry with Questions and Answers to particular issues, as well as a series of related links at the bottom of the page.

Canadian Agricultural Human Resources Council

For more information about managing COVID-19 in the agriculture industry, the risk to the work environment and employee health and safety, read the special briefing provided by the Canadian Agricultural Human Resources Council (CAHRC) and find more CAHRC COVID-19 resources here.

Financial assistance measures 

The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) has developed a summary of financial assistance measures relevant to Ontario farm businesses that have been announced by the federal and provincial governments in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Find the summary here.

COVID-19 Worker Income Protection Benefit (WIPB)

Under the COVID-19 Worker Income Protection Benefit (WIPB), employers can apply to get reimbursed for up to three days pay (max $200/day) paid to employees on paid infectious disease emergency leave from April 19 to September 25, 2021. The employer reimbursement program launched on May 27, 2021 is being administered by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB). Learn more here.

Enhanced Agri-food Workplace Protection Program

The Enhanced Agri-food Workplace Protection Program is now open. This $36.6 million program, which includes the additional $10 million in funding for 2021-2022, helps farmers, primary food processors and on-farm service providers purchase personal protective equipment, enhance cleaning and redesign workstations to better protect workers.

As of November 17, 2021, new updates to the Enhanced Agri-food Workplace Protection Program have been implemented to better support worker health and safety in agri-food workplaces. The deadline to apply has also been extended to February 1, 2022, or until funding is fully allocated. Learn more here.

COVID-19 rapid testing and screening in workplaces: Get free rapid tests

The Government of Canada, some provincial/territorial governments and distribution partners are providing free rapid COVID-19 tests to organizations. These tests are to be used for regular workplace screening of employees. Farm businesses and not-for-profit organizations are eligible to apply. Learn more here.

Cost of Production tools and financial assistance measures available for veal producers during COVID-19

As we move forward into the next phase of the ‘new normal’ and prepare for markets to re-open or re-purpose, it is more important than ever to review the tools available to help navigate the market disruptions and uncertainties that lie ahead for the veal sector as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Find a summary of Cost of Production tools and financial assistance measures that may be applicable to veal producers here.

Guide for direct sales to consumers during COVID-19 and beyond

During these unprecedented times, the OFA recognizes that it is not ‘business as usual’, and hopes to provide some support and guidance to help you continue to sell and market your agricultural products.

The Guide provides ideas for alternative market channels available to you, general health and safety protocols when selling direct, how to set up your operation, keep your workforce safe, and market your operation using social media and other online tools. They have also provided a number of resources from other organizations supporting farmers selling direct.

Find the updated resource here.

Exemption of Essential Workers letter template 

In response to the Ontario government’s stay-at-home orders which came into effect at 12:01 a.m. on April 8, 2021, OFA has developed the Stay-at-Home Exemption Letter for members and their employees. The letter clearly outlines that under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMPCA), any person (farmer or employee) carrying the letter is considered exempt from the stay-at-home order while conducting essential business activities.

The letter clearly identifies businesses that are permitted to stay open as well as a list of essential activities related to the agriculture and food sector that are exempt.

The purpose of the letter is to allow farmers and employees to travel in order to conduct business.

Find the letter here.

Government resources

A checklist has been provided by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA), in consultation with the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development, for producers in the event an employee on your farm tests positive for COVID-19. Each situation and farm will have unique factors and must seek guidance from their local public health unit should an outbreak occur.

What to do if someone working on your farm tests positive for COVID-19

OMAFRA has drafted two resources for producers to keep them updated with the current government programs and HR resources during COVID-19. These resources will be updated on a regular basis.

COVID-19 government supports for producers

COVID-19 HR resources for producers

Both the Ontario and Canadian Governments have useful information for farmers and agribusiness owners about the COVID-19 Pandemic. Please click on the below links to find out more information.

Government of Ontario

Government of Canada

Health Canada issues Public Advisory concerning the use of veterinary ivermectin to prevent or treat COVID-19

Health Canada has received concerning reports of the use of veterinary ivermectin to prevent or treat COVID-19. Canadians should never consume health products intended for animals because of the potential serious health dangers posed by them.

In this light, Health Canada is advising Canadians not to use either the veterinary or human drug versions of Ivermectin to prevent or treat COVID-19. There is no evidence that ivermectin in either formulation is safe or effective when used for those purposes.

Read the full advisory here.

Health & Safety Resources

Partnering with Workplace Safety & Prevention Services (WSPS), OMAFRA is providing the sector with educational resources, tools and consulting services to help them implement health and safety protocols. Additional details about businesses that may qualify can be found online on the WSPS website here.

Mental health resources 

If your farm business and employees are feeling anxious or concerned about the COVID-19 situation, the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) developed a resource specifically for Canadian employers recommending six tips for responding to employee anxiety here.

If you or anyone close to you requires support at this time, please find mental health resources available on these websites:

Ontario Federation of Agriculture

The OFA has various resources available regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on the agriculture industry. Find them here.

Priority information resources 

OMAFRA has pulled together priority information resources for producers. Deciding when and how to market and feed your animals right now can be a difficult decision. Find resources that may help to guide your decision, including the veal Cost of Production calculator refreshed by OMAFRA and VFO in 2019, here.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Directory

Our government has also put together a directory of PPE suppliers to help you access the equipment that you need. The directory is available here.

Revised Food and Agriculture Organization Guidance for preventing the transmission of COVID-19

On August 2, 2021, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) updated their guidance document entitled, COVID-19: Guidance for preventing transmission of COVID-19 within food businesses“, originally published on April 7, 2020. Canada, along with other trading partners, had been requesting the FAO guidance be updated over the past year to reflect that COVID-19 is a public health concern and not a food safety concern.

The purpose of the revised FAO publication is to highlight the measures needed to control COVID-19 in food operations while protecting both employees and the food supply chain.

Risk Management Program

The pace and degree of uncertainty is rapidly changing as the supply chain changes and is disrupted. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is widespread and primary producers need a financial backstop to manage these uncertain times.

The RMP is an already established mechanism through which farmers can be supported and ensure that funding would be provided according to need. VFO will continue to work with our partners to ensure we continue to advocate for the needs of veal farmers in this time of crisis.

The RMP helps farmers manage risks beyond their control, like fluctuating costs and market prices. The funding provides added support now for farmers facing financial challenges due to COVID-19.

To give farmers more time and flexibility to make decisions and assess their coverage needs, the 2021 enrolment and livestock reporting deadlines have been extended. Customers can save time by enrolling and reporting sales online.

Learn more here.

Temporary Foreign Worker Program

More information can be found here.

Temporary Foreign Workers (TFWs) will be able to access publicly funded PCR diagnostic testing if they have symptoms or exposure to a positive case AND for travel purposes. Rapid antigen testing is available for unvaccinated TFWs and other farm workers if they are asymptomatic.

More information about the assessment centres is now easily accessible on Ontario’s dedicated COVID-19 website here.

Transportation of animals

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s (CFIA) Interpretive Guidance document Appendix 1, which contains definitions and further clarification of terminology within Part XII of the Health of Animals Regulations (HAR) can now be found online here.

Clarifications around intent of certain provisions within the body of the Interpretive Guidance document have been provided as well. These include Feed, water, rest intervals (section 19), Transfer of care (section 20), and Records (section 21).

In addition, the CFIA has heard concerns about paper/documentation changing hands during the COVID-19 situation. In the current circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic and the need to adhere to specific health and safety measures, it may be useful to note that the new requirements under Part XII of the HAR pertaining to record-keeping and transfer of care documents may be met using electronic means rather than paper documents. The CFIA will exercise flexibility in cases where industry is unable to meet the record-keeping and transfer of care documents requirements under Part XII of the HAR (transport of animals) during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Working with livestock

According to the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) there have not been any reports of livestock being infected by COVID-19 anywhere to date. However, livestock producers should follow normal biosecurity measures as always. This includes limiting visitors or workers who may have travelled to, or been in contact with, someone from an affected area. More information, including updates and prevention tips, can be found on the CVMA website.

The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association and the Canadian Beef Breeds Council have provided Guidelines for Canadian Cattle Sales in 2020 (updated November 25, 2020).

General resources 

Public Health Canada

Public Health Ontario

Find your local Public Health Unit

World Health Organization