Mexico won't send workers to Canadian farms that ignore COVID-19 rules: ambassador
OTTAWA -- Mexico's Ambassador to Canada Juan José Gómez Camacho has a warning for Canada: any farm that fails to follow COVID-19 rules will not receive help from any Mexican workers.
The ambassador made the comment during an episode of CTV Power Play on Monday, after news broke earlier in the day that a third migrant worker with COVID-19 had died in Ontario. Workers are required to follow a 14-day quarantine period following their arrival in Canada, which means the worker was likely exposed to the virus while working on a Canadian farm.
"Let me say something. Any farm that does not follow the rules will certainly not receive any Mexican work," Gómez Camacho told host Evan Solomon.
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Mexico had hit pause on the temporary foreign worker program last week after two workers had died from COVID-19, halting as many as 5,000 workers from coming to Canada. At the time, Gómez Camacho told The Canadian Press in an interview that 300 Mexicans were believed to have been infected with the virus in Canada.
However, news broke late Sunday that the two countries had hammered out a plan to get the program going once more, after Canada pledged to ramp up inspections and oversight at its farms to fight the spread of COVID-19.
“What I’m confident about…is the commitment from the federal government, the norms put in place, their commitment to strengthen supervision, monitoring and enforcement of the rules,” he said.
"That said, the challenge we have, the reason there have been infections and sadly, three deaths now, is because in some farms these rules are not being followed."
He said Mexico halted the program briefly to understand where this problem was coming from.
"We now know that the main problem that is happening out there, in some farms, is that the housing conditions are improper," he said, noting that the federal government has committed to step up its oversight on this issue.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford echoed this commitment with a message to farmers during a press conference on Monday.
"I'm going to tell it the way it is: farmers just aren't co-operating," Ford said, urging farmers to follow the rules.
"I can't emphasize enough, I'd break down a brick wall for farmers, they're the hardest working people I know. But this is not working out…everyone is co-operating, so please co-operate."
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also commented on the issue during his Monday press conference, noting that Canada needs to do "a better job" of ensuring the rules are followed when it comes to temporary foreign workers.
"Every single person who works in Canada deserves to do so in a safe environment and unfortunately that hasn't always happened," Trudeau said.
"So we will continue to work with Mexico and other countries to ensure that the systems are in place, that their citizens are protected while they're working here, even as we continue to receive people to work on our farms right across the country."
With files from The Canadian Press