Chilliwack-Hope MP Mark Strahl is calling on the federal government to provide rapid COVID testing for arriving international farm workers. (Black Press file)

Chilliwack-Hope MP Mark Strahl is calling on the federal government to provide rapid COVID testing for arriving international farm workers. (Black Press file)

MP Mark Strahl calls for rapid COVID testing for international farm workers

Chilliwack-Hope MP says the greenhouse industry is very concerned about worker availability

The MP for Chilliwack-Hope says local farmers are concerned about federal COVID restrictions on travellers entering Canada.

The governing Liberals recently introduced a requirement for all international travellers, including international farm workers, to test negative for COVID-19 before boarding a Canada-bound flight.

Mark Strahl says a greenhouse producer in Chilliwack told him this is “an extremely serious issue for their industry.”

“Many international farm workers cannot afford the cost of a COVID-19 test before they leave their country, and even if they can afford it, some countries currently lack the necessary testing capacity,” Strahl said. “This local greenhouse producer stressed that it is imperative to grant greenhouse workers an exemption from this new requirement until their countries can build their processes and capacities for testing.”

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Even with a negative COVID test in their country of origin, international farm workers are still required to isolate after arriving in Canada.

The Conservatives are calling on the government to introduce rapid testing for those people.

“Greenhouse vegetable producers rely on international farm workers for their growing season and vegetable growers need workers to continue packing crops,” said Lianne Rood, Conservative Shadow Minister for Agriculture and Agri-Food in a news release. “Conservatives have been raising concerns with the Minister (Marie-Claude Bibeau) since November, yet we see no action while thousands of Canadian farmers are left in the dark.”

Strahl said the federal government should follow the lead of other jurisdictions around the the world that have post-arrival testing in place.

“The Liberals have refused to look at evidence-based models that other G7 countries are using, in favour of confusing, difficult to enforce and verify, pre-arrival testing requirements,” he said. “Conservatives will keep fighting for the health and safety of Canadians and for the certainty and clarity they deserve from their government.”

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