Frequently Asked Questions

The entire food chain is an essential part of the province’s Declaration of Emergency – guiding protocols in emergency situations. Each province has ability to determine what is in the protocol. In Ontario’s protocol, the food sector in its entirety will be protected from shutdowns and restrictions. The province will do everything they can to make sure food inspectors will be made available. Plants will not be shut down if workers get sick but sick and the province is looking at all their options to ensure there are enough inspectors to be at the plants when they are needed.

Technicality that needs to be worked out. Any business that helps the food sector operate must be included. The province will not intentionally put anything forward to shut them down. MPO will continue to update OMAFRA and the Minister’s office if we hear there are any challenges or disruptions in input and services needed to keep plants operational.

Minister Blair announced that agriculture Temporary Foreign Workers has been exempt from the ban but they will need to be isolated for 14 days. AS you know since Minister Blair made the announcement there has been a lot of clarification and other messages from the government (some a little confusing). At this point I think we can safely say that the federal government has announced that they are working towards allowing temporary foreign workers being allowed but more details to come.

More details will be coming out. It is unclear if it will include OINP program.

Yes please see below from Employment and Social Development Canada


Work-Sharing Program

The Work-Sharing program is implementing temporary special measures to support employers and employees affected by the downturn in business caused by COVID-19. The new temporary special measures are available to employers impacted directly or indirectly by COVID-19. The measures allows for eligible employers to retain skilled employees and workers to remain employed during the temporary downturn in business due to COVID-19. The temporary special measures will:

  • extend the Work-Sharing agreements by an additional 38 weeks
  • wave the mandatory waiting period between agreements
  • ease the recovery plan requirements

Access the Work-Sharing page to learn more about the program and its requirements.

Access the Work-Sharing temporary special measures page to find out if you are eligible for temporary special measures.

From the FDA website on COVID-19 Facts

“Coronaviruses are generally thought to be spread from person-to-person through respiratory droplets. Currently, there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 by food. Unlike foodborne gastrointestinal (GI) viruses like norovirus and hepatitis A that often make people ill through contaminated food, SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19, is a virus that causes respiratory illness. Foodborne exposure to this virus is not known to be a route of transmission.”

FROM FDA WEBSITE ABOVE “If an employee is confirmed to have COVID-19, employers should inform fellow employees of their possible exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace but maintain confidentiality.  Sick employees should follow the CDC’s What to do if you are sick with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Employers should consult with the local health department for additional guidance.


While the primary responsibility in this instance is to take appropriate actions to protect other workers and people who might have come in contact with the ill employee, facilities should re-double their cleaning and sanitation efforts to control any risks that might be associated with workers who are ill regardless of the type of virus or bacteria. For example, facilities are required to maintain clean and sanitized facilities and food contact surfaces.”

Staff are your most valuable and vulnerable resource. Communication is vital to ensuring they know this. Here are some things that were discussed


Assuring Staff workplace is safe:

  • Educate yourself daily on COVID and then communicate and educate your staff daily.
  • Share your policies with them and increase signage around the building about reminders to wash hands/surfaces. Remind them on regular basis.
  • Share Minister’s message with staff that supplying food is critical and they are a providing essential service to Ontarians.
  • Increase protective gear (face masks, shields, gloves).
  • Increase frequency of cleaning of high touch areas (door ways/knobs, machine surfaces)

A) Communicate, walk the floor to let team know the important role they play during the crisis.

B) Bonus pay or wage increase during crisis.

C) Provide lunches & coffee.

D) Covering private transportation costs for those who normally use public transit.

How to manage labour with reduced business requirement, what are our options?

A) Layoff and file for EI (Has ROE codes to use).

B) Workshare program (working with federal on applications and to prioritize – 30 day wait will be eliminated). Apply now to receive funds before May.

Temporary wage subsidy – up to $25k subsidy on payroll deductions. Immediate relief can be implemented with payroll.

Financial Planning – How to afford projects or equipment down the road when this crisis is over.

Some work being done around cash flow contingency plans. BDC has great resources to manage finances over next quarters.