In an unprecedented move, Mexico has decided to put an interim halt on sending more temporary foreign workers to Canada amid rising safety concerns from COVID-19 in the country. As per media reports, Mexico’s Ambassador to Canada Juan Jose Gomez Camacho on Monday said that until there is clarity on the death of two workers from the virus, no more seasonal workers will be sent to Canada. Furthermore, a safety review of Canadian health policies and procedures will be carried out by the Mexican administration before permitting other temporary workers to Canada for work, particularly in the agricultural sector for seasonal farming.
The Mexican government is calling for assurance from the Canadian government for the safety of workers amid the health crisis. While two Mexican workers have died from COVID-19, several others are receiving treatment in the hospital. According to the ambassador, at least 300 Mexicans across Canada have been infected with the virus. In the wake of the development, movement of over 5,000 temporary foreign workers to Canada in the coming months has been stopped for the time being.
Gomez Camacho has been in touch with the Canadian government to review infections among hundreds of Mexican workers weeks after they completed mandatory 14-day quarantine in Canada.
“It has been taken to reassess with the federal authorities, provinces, and farmers why this happened and if there is anything to correct,” he said in an interview.
Asserting that the workers need a regular source of livelihood, Gomez Camacho clarified that the pause on movement is temporary to ensure the safety of the workers.
Notedly, Canada’s agriculture sector largely depends on thousands of foreign workers from countries like Mexico and Jamaica all year around. However, in view of the global health emergency, many migrant labourers decided to stay home in a bid to protest themselves from the virus. This led to a severe dearth of essential foreign labour, which Canadian agricultural firms are trying to fill in with local workers.
Taking note of the situation, Gomez Camacho told media that the Canadian government is taking initiatives like covering isolation facilities costs and providing PPEs to protect the temporary foreign workers. Furthermore, the Mexican government has been working with Canadian officials, launching several programs to assist foreign labourers working in Canada’s farms and greenhouses.
Recently, Canadian PM Justin Trudeau held talks with Mexican President Lopez Obrador wherein he expressed his condolences over the death of the two men from the virus. As per a statement issued by Canadian Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough’s office, it has been stated that officials from both the countries are working together to ensure the safety and support of temporary Mexican workers arriving in Canada for seasonal jobs.