Taras Natyshak MPP, Essex

Government of Ontario

Ford must reverse decision on forcing migrant workers with COVID-19 to work and produce real plan to protect workers and public health

Published on July 2, 2020

ESSEX — The NDP says Doug Ford’s strategy for protecting migrant workers in the COVID-19 pandemic is now in shambles. MPP Taras Natyshak (Essex) is calling on Ford to formally reverse the decision to force asymptomatic migrant workers to work when they should be isolated and to step up with plans to ensure migrant workers get sick pay, pandemic pay and adequate accommodation so they can safely isolate when they need to.

“Doug Ford’s plan for migrant workers has now been rejected by hundreds of health experts and by the health authorities on the ground,” said Natyshak. “Anyone with COVID-19 should be isolating, not on the job. Ontario desperately needs a plan that ensures workers have paid sick time and a place where they can safely isolate.”

Already, three migrant workers have died from contracting COVID-19 in Ontario. Over 700 health experts have signed an open letter to the province to reverse Ontario’s policy to force these migrant workers onto the job site even though they have been tested and found to be positive for COVID-19. Now the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit has used their own authority to prohibit workers from working following a COVID-19 outbreak at a greenhouse operation.

Natyshak reiterated his call to ensure these workers are compensated with pandemic pay, have appropriate sick pay benefits, and have a safe place to isolate and recover from this illness. The NDP also believes farm operators will need financial support to meet their labour demands while the migrant workers are paid and protected.