The HMGA represents 126 farmers who grow a variety of vegetables including 66 percent of the province’s onions and 58 percent of the province’s carrots. Executive Director Jody Mott said members have left nothing to chance to protect their workers, themselves and the community.
Luckily, the migrant workers toiling in the fields for the HMGA so far have been spared from COVID-19.
Mott can’t put a dollar figure on what growers have spent to ensure safety, but notes new trailers cost as much as $80,000. If workers share a bedroom, the beds must be six feet apart. No worker was able to move in until there was a rigorous inspection by the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Labour.
Besides the inspection process, Mott is on the phone every Wednesday to the health units in Simcoe Muskoka and York Region to receive updates from local officials and to forward questions that growers have.
Most of the workers contracted by HMGA come from the Caribbean and Mexico. Due to the virus, the number of workers needed in the fields is at 75 percent capacity. Mott said the workers are encouraged to stay on the farms, though they have the right to go into the community. Grocery stores assist by preparing orders that are picked up and there is direct debiting to bank accounts.