After COVID-19 safety agreement, Mexico to resume sending farm workers to Canada

At least 3 Mexican workers have died after outbreaks on 17 Canadian farms.

Thomson Reuters · Posted: Jun 21, 2020 7:10 PM ET |

Workers from Mexico wear protective face masks during a mandatory 14-day quarantine after arriving at Mayfair Farms in Portage la Prairie, Man., on April 28. (Shannon VanRaes/Reuters)

Mexico will resume sending temporary farm workers to Canada after the two countries reached an agreement on improved safety protections for labourers on Canadian farms during the coronavirus pandemic, the Mexican government said on Sunday.

Mexico said last Tuesday it would pause sending workers to farms with coronavirus infections after Mexican nationals died from COVID-19 after outbreaks on 17 Canadian farms.

The announcement came as health officials in southern Ontario on Sunday confirmed a third migrant worker from Mexico had died.

The Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit said that the worker was with Scotlynn Group — a large-scale farming operation in Vittoria, Ont. — that currently has 217 positive cases involving migrant workers and farm employees.

A migrant worker from Chiapas, Mexico, cuts cabbage in a field near Edinburg, Texas. Farmers and field workers in the Rio Grande Valley are feeling the coronavirus pinch. With the closure of restaurants nationwide, there isn’t enough demand for the produce that was planted three to four months ago. Some crops, like onions, remain in the fields where they may rot, because there isn’t room in the packing houses that are already full, on Tuesday, April 7, 2020.

Canadian farmers rely on 60,000 short-term foreign workers, predominantly from Latin America and the Caribbean, to plant and harvest crops.

Mexico’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the Temporary Agricultural Workers Program (PTAT) had “entered into operation once again after a temporary pause.”

The two nations “reached an agreement to improve the sanitary conditions of the nationals who work on farms,” the statement added.

With files from CBC News

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