The governments of Canada and Ontario today announced they are investing in several projects that will support labour and training needs in the farming sector, including committing more than $180,000 for the development of a new college program that will provide education and training in the latest agricultural equipment.
Through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership (the Partnership), the federal and provincial governments will assist Conestoga College in the creation, launch and delivery of a pilot program to expand the training opportunities for current farm sector employees and better prepare those interested in careers in agriculture to work on farms in key areas.
Students will learn skilled trades in high demand areas such as spraying and fertilizing operations, custom tillage and harvesting operations. The project is one of several recently approved by the governments to help primary agriculture, food processing companies and food retailers to recruit and train workers who are critical in keeping the province’s essential food supply functioning.
Through a targeted intake under the Partnership’s Place to Grow: Agri-Food Innovation Initiative, the governments have also recently committed up to $594,000 to projects to boost labour supply and training in the agri-food sector. In addition to the Conestoga College program, the governments have approved:
- $396,000 for the Ontario Federation of Agriculture to develop a comprehensive support system for businesses in the agriculture and food sector to target communities affected by workforce shortages in the agri-food sector due to COVID-19, including a job matching and labour recruiting service;
- $198,000 for Food and Beverage Ontario to develop and complete a six-month marketing campaign to build confidence with frontline food workers, support business continuity for Ontario’s food and beverage processing sector, and support the operational stability of Ontario’s food and beverage processing sector during COVID-19 challenges.
Since June 2018, both the federal and provincial governments have committed support to more than 3,900 projects, through the Partnership, to help eligible Ontario farmers, processors, businesses and sector organizations innovate and grow.
The Ontario government is supporting personal support workers (PSWs) and direct support workers in the home and community care, long-term care, public hospitals, and social services sectors by investing $461 million to temporarily enhance wages. This investment will help the province attract and retain the workforce needed to care for patients, clients and residents in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Details were provided today by Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Long-Term Care, and Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health.
The province is providing a temporary wage increase effective October 1, 2020 to over 147,000 workers who deliver publicly funded personal support services:
- $3 per hour for approximately 38,000 eligible workers in home and community care;
- $3 per hour for approximately 50,000 eligible workers in long-term care;
- $2 per hour for approximately 12,300 eligible workers in public hospitals; and
- $3 per hour for approximately 47,000 eligible workers in children, community and social services providing personal direct support services for the activities of daily living.
The temporary wage enhancement will be reviewed on a regular basis and could extend through March 31, 2021, in connection with regulations made under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020.
This temporary wage enhancement continues to build on the province’s COVID-19 fall preparedness plan, which includes an investment of $26.3 million to support PSWs and supportive care workers. The plan will help to increase and stabilize the healthcare workforce through the following investments:
- $14 million for the Personal Support Worker training funds to continue training PSWs in the home and community care and long-term care sectors;
- $10.3 million for the new Personal Support Worker Return of Service Program, to recruit and retain recent graduates to work in long-term care homes and in the home and community care sectors. This program will provide a $5,000 incentive to 2,000 recent graduates for a six-month commitment to work in these settings;
- $1.3 million to train 160 supportive care workers to provide basic home support services; and
- $700,000 in accelerated personal support worker training for 220 students with prior health experience to practice in Ontario.
These temporary investments build on the province’s COVID-19 fall preparedness plan, Keeping Ontarians Safe: Preparing for Future Waves of COVID-19, which will help the province quickly identify, prevent and respond to any scenario in order to protect communities.
In consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, the Ontario government is updating its COVID-19 school and child care screening guidance. This additional information will help parents determine when it is most appropriate for students, children and their families to seek a test for COVID-19.
The school and child care screening guidance is being updated with two sets of questions about symptoms and information to help parents make informed decisions about whether their children should attend school or child care, need to consult a health care provider, or get tested for COVID-19. The guidance can be found immediately at the COVID-19 Screening Tool for Children in School and Child Care, and the refreshed online tool will launch on Friday, October 2 for download.
The first set of questions asks about symptoms such as fever or cough. Students and children with any of these symptoms will still be advised to stay home until they are able to consult with a health care provider and receive an alternative diagnosis or a negative COVID-19 test.
The second set of questions asks about other symptoms that are commonly associated with other illnesses, such as a runny nose or headache:
- Students and children with only one of these symptoms will be advised to stay home for 24 hours, after which they can return to school or child care if their symptoms are improving.
- Students and children with two or more of these symptoms will be advised to stay home until they are able to consult with a health care provider and receive an alternative diagnosis or a negative COVID-19 test.
In addition, based on the latest public health guidance the symptom list for children in school and child care no longer includes abdominal pain or conjunctivitis (pink eye).