Employers must follow all Provincial Health Office (PHO) and WorkSafe BC orders and guidance. The information here aligns with recommendations and is subject to change. Visit the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control for the most current information.Most agriculture and aquaculture operations should put in place measures found within:
COVID-19 General Information & Support
To find out about financial and other supports, read COVID-19: Supports for Businesses and Individuals in B.C. (PDF, 407KB)
- Wage subsidies
- Access to capital through the Community Futures Network.
- Rural businesses can contact their local Community Futures office for more information.
|Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA)|
- Helps Canadian businesses obtain financing during the current period of significant uncertainty.
- Supports access to financing for businesses in all sectors and regions through financial institutions.
- Interested businesses should work with their current financial institutions.
- Supports employers to retain labour who are at risk of or who have recently been laid off as a result of COVID-19.
- A 75% wage subsidy on the first $58,700 of employees’ wages for three months, retroactive to March 15, 2020, will be available to qualifying businesses, charities and not-for-profit organizations that have experienced at least a 15% decline in revenue due to COVID-19.
Ministry of Agriculture Programs
- Support when producers experience a large margin decline.
- Cost-shared insurance against natural hazards to reduce the financial impact of production or asset losses. The Western Livestock Price Insurance program will continue to play an important role in protecting incomes.
- Specialized business planning services from qualified business consultants.
- Supports for Indigenous communities and organizations to identify and develop agriculture and agri-food opportunities.
- Cost-shared funding to applicants to undertake sector/product specific marketing and promotional activities to increase consumer demand and sales of BC agri-food and seafood products within the Province.
COVID-19 Workplace Health and Safety Information
Coronavirus is spread from an infected person through:
- Droplets when a person coughs or sneezes
- By touch if a person has used their hands to cover their mouth or nose when they cough or sneeze.
- Touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands.
- Exposure to COVID-19 increases in places like processing lines and areas where workers can’t avoid contact with others.
- Workers in processing plants or other agriculture facilities like greenhouses are not exposed to COVID-19 through the products they handle.
There are several factors that increase the risk of exposure, including:
Distance between workers
Processing plant workers often work close to one another on processing lines. Workers may also be near one another at other times, such as:
- When clocking in or out
- During breaks
- In locker and changing rooms.
Duration of contact
Processing plant workers often have prolonged closeness to coworkers (e.g., for 10-12 hours per shift).
- Continued contact with potentially infectious individuals increases the risk of transmission.
Type of contact
Workers may be exposed to the infectious virus through
- Respiratory droplets in the air when workers in the plant who have the virus cough or sneeze.
- Contact with contaminated surfaces or objects, such as tools, workstations, or break room tables.
- Shared spaces such as break rooms, locker rooms, and entrances/exits to the facility .
- Shared transportation such as ride-share vans or shuttle vehicles, car-pools, and public transportation
- Frequent contact with fellow workers in settings where there is ongoing community transmission.
Workplaces and businesses can do many things to limit the spread of COVID-19.
For a greater understanding of workplace requirements and guidance for your business, read the Government of Canada resources on COVID-19 Workplace Guidance for Sector Employees and Employers.
For step by step guidance read the Provincial Health Officer’s Guidance for Protecting BC farmers and farm workers during the COVID-19 pandemic (PDF, 455KB).
If COVID-19 is in the community it might not be possible to limit all possibility of it entering the workplace.
Employers can create processes and procedures that limit the transmission of COVID-19 between employees.
All workplaces must implement the measures described in the PHO orders including the basic precautions around:
- Physical distancing,
- Hand washing,
- Covering nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing, and
- Reporting illness.
Employees must receive education and training on safety measures and protocols for COVID-19. All worksite employees must participate.
Training must include education on
- Physical distancing,
- Hygiene, and
- Reporting illness.
The operational changes you make in your workplace depend on what the COVID-19 transmission level of risk is in your workplace.
The goal is to decrease risks, install controls an implement regular cleaning, sanitation, and disinfection practices to reduce exposure and promote the safety of workers.
Promote physical distancing
Encourage single-file movement with appropriate six-foot distance between each worker through the facility and on-farm, where possible.
- Designate staff to monitor and facilitate distancing on-farm and processing floor lines.
- Stagger break and meal times or provide temporary break areas and restrooms to avoid groups during breaks. Re-arrange break rooms and common areas to ensure physical distancing between workers.
- Modify the alignment of workstations, if feasible, so that workers are six feet apart. Modify workstations where possible so that workers do not face each other directly.
- Stagger workers’ arrival and departure times to avoid congregation in common areas.
- Provide visual cues that workers can read from a distance to remind workers and visitors of physical distancing requirements both during work hours and on-breaks.
- Consider establishing work teams or crews to minimize contact between workers including staggering work times to avoid employees interacting with other teams.
Promote good hygiene
- Provide educational materials on good hygiene practices for accessibility (including in multiple languages and pictorial) – available on the Government of Canada’s hand washing guidance or BCCDC’s signage and posters for COVID-19.
- Educate employees on good practices such as avoiding touching their faces; washing their hands regularly and thoroughly and not coming to work when feeling ill.
- Provide workers access to soap, clean running water and single use paper towels for regular hand-washing.
- Provide alcohol-based sanitizers containing at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not immediately available and place them in multiple locations.
Increase sanitation and disinfection practices
- For tool-intensive operations, employers should ensure tools are regularly cleaned and disinfected, at least as often as workers move stations or use new tools.
- Establish protocols and provide supplies to increase the frequency of sanitization in work and common spaces such as breakrooms, equipment, or workstations.
- Frequently clean handles on doors that do not open automatically and handrails on stairs.
Sometimes, physical distancing between workers is not practical for extended periods of time (e.g. travel to site).
There are situations where it is not possible to maintain production while respecting the 2m separation. In preparation for COVID-19, please only buy personal protection equipment (PPE) if it is needed for the normal, reoccurring hazards associated with the job (e.g., certified pesticide applications). The following guidance provides employers methods to achieve physical distancing when it is difficult to do so:
- An impervious barrier (“Physical barrier”) can be installed in collaboration with the joint health and safety committee between workstations (people). The barrier must be something that prevents one person’s cough or sneeze from contacting another person. The barrier must be made of a non-porous material that can be effectively disinfected. Regular household cleaning products with a Drug Identification Number can be used to clean the physical barrier as they are effective against COVID-19. Follow the instructions on the product label.
- Barriers will be site specific and must be installed in such a way as to minimize risk of cross contamination (an example of this are Plexiglass barriers that some retailers have installed to protect cashiers in retail stores).
- If physical barriers cannot be erected on a work site, workers should wear a clean cloth mask or covering across the nose and mouth (e.g. a bandana) to minimize spread of droplets onto common work surfaces especially in instances where there is continuous close quarter work tasks (e.g., two or more people in an indoor or confined space).
Support for the purchasing of personal protective equipment can be found through:
To help stop the spread of COVID-19, employers can assign employees to travel with the same small working group or work pod.
Workers must work with the co-ordinator(s) regarding travel to and from the accommodations or worksite as outlined in the Industrial Camp Order (PDF, 308KB). In situations where employees are required to travel together in vehicles to the work site, employees will travel in a designated vehicle for their work pod.
The size of this work pod must not exceed the total number of seats in the crew vehicle. To find out how to protect workers when they cannot maintain physical distancing, read the section on Situations where Maintaining Physical Distance is Difficult in Guidance for Industrial Camps (PDF, 464KB)
Proper precautions should be exercised when travelling to and from accommodation and work sites, including frequent handwashing and avoiding touching one’s own face, maintaining physical distancing, cleaning and disinfecting high touch points like door handles, and minimizing contact with crowds and public places.
Ensure safety protocols are in place in case employees who typically travel alone have a reporting process so that employers know whether they have made it to and from the site safely.
At the start of each working day and throughout the day, drivers clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces in the vehicles using an alcohol-based cleaner or disinfecting wipes/spray and paper towel; if these are unavailable, use soap and water.
High touch or key contact points include:
- Door handles (inside and out)
- Window buttons
- Steering wheel and controls
- Wiper and turn signal handle
- Dash controls and buttons
- Ventilation grilles and knobs
- Rear-view mirror
- Grab handles and seat adjusters
- Seat belt buckles
- Radio and communication devices
When more than one worker is traveling, physical distancing practices apply. Shared travel with more than one person should be minimized. Employers may use the following options:
Using Buses & Vans – Physical Distancing
- Load and offload passengers by the rear doors if possible or establish a rule that the driver is last-on, first-off of the bus.
- Allow for enough time for passengers to disembark from vehicles to allow for adequate distancing and prevent crowding.
- Create spacing between riders such as staggering where people sit (e.g. aisle to window, alternating per row).
- Consider installing physical barriers that can minimize spread of droplets.
- Hand-washing facilities or sanitizer must be made available before and after the bus ride.
Using Trucks & Cars – Physical Distancing
- Where possible limit a single driver in a conventional truck (i.e., single cab).
- A driver and one passenger may travel together in vehicles with two rows of seating. The passenger should sit in the back seat on the opposite side as the driver.
- The only exception to this is the work pod as described above.
- Hands should be washed thoroughly before and after the truck ride and common surfaces should be wiped down before and at the end of each trip.
This guidance also applies to any accommodation that may be housing any employee. Potential accommodation scenarios include tents, motels/hotels, and private accommodation.
Consider how to maintain physical distancing, decrease crowding, and reduce social interactions. Maintaining small and consistent groupings of people will help prevent and control the potential transmission of COVID-19.
Camp preparations and camp hygiene
General guidance for physical distancing will require a variety of actions to decrease crowding and social interactions.
- Gatherings of any size be structured so that those present can maintain a distance of 2 metres from each other
- Stagger mealtimes where practical and minimize people using the kitchen at one time, opening additional dining areas, and cancelling group activities
- Reduce in-person indoor meetings and other gatherings and hold site meetings in open spaces or outside
- Shared accommodations should be arranged in such a fashion that beds are at least 2m apart and head-to-toe where possible. If beds cannot be at least 2m apart, use temporary barriers between beds, such as curtains, to prevent droplet spread while sleeping, and sleep head-to-toe
- None of the residents in a shared accommodation can be ill or meet a criterion that requires self-isolation requirements. Any employees that are ill or require self-isolation must be immediately moved into separate facilities, otherwise all employees in the residence would have to be placed in self-isolation
- The employer shall ensure that reusable eating utensils and dishes (cups, plates, bowls, forks, knives, spoons) are provided for all employees
- All eating utensils and dishes shall be cleaned by designated kitchen or cleaning staff, according to the 4-step process outlined in the BC Guidelines for Industrial Camps Regulation, that includes pre-rinsing, washing, soaking in a bleach solution, and air-drying
Cleaning protocols – common areas
- Health and safety co-ordinators shall be established in each camp and crew to oversee implementation of health and safety requirements related to COVID-19
- Cleaning protocols will be created and posted throughout all facilities
- Ensure daily cleaning and disinfection of all common areas and surfaces
- Cleaning products will be readily available, monitored daily and restocked daily as required
- High touch surfaces such as counters, handles, control switches will be cleaned a minimum of twice per day with regular household cleaning products, disposable wipes or a diluted bleach solution. This includes food storage and preparation surfaces, serving areas, drinking stations, waste disposal facilities, tables, chairs, work surfaces, desktops and washroom facilities. Follow the directions on the product label
- Clean visibly dirty surfaces before disinfecting, unless stated otherwise on the product instructions. Cleaning refers to the removal of visible dirt, grime and impurities. Cleaning does not kill germs but helps remove them from the surface
- Use a disinfectant that has a Drug Identification Number and that it is effective against viruses. Follow the instructions on the product label
- If commercial or household cleaning products are not readily available, you can prepare a bleach and water solution with 500 parts per million chlorine solution: 1:100 [e.g. mix 10 ml household bleach (5.25%) with 990 ml water] When using the bleach and water solution, the surface must remain wet for at least one minute. For more information, please see the BCCDC’s cleaning and disinfecting
- Floors and walls should be kept visibly clean and free of spills, dust and debris
- Empty and clean garbage cans in public areas regularly
- Items that cannot be easily cleaned and disinfected should be removed
- Employees are required to disinfect shared areas (kitchen & bathroom counters, handles and control switches) after each use
- Post signs to encourage hand hygiene among all staff and guests using the BCCDC’s Signage and posters
- Put up signage in your facility promoting physical distancing
- Shower facilities and toilets must be provided in numbers meeting or exceeding the numbers stated in Schedule 2 of the BC Industrial Camps Regulation onsite when overnight camping is provided. Additional facilities should be provided to ensure the availability of dedicated facilities for workers in isolation without reducing the minimal number of facilities available to other workers
- Consider supplying shower facilities onsite when overnight camping is provided
- Locate camps in locations with adequate drainage
- Camp food service and preparation practices and procedures must follow BC Guidelines for Industrial Camps Regulation (PDF, 308KB)
- Buffet-style serving systems must not be utilized whenever such systems can practically be replaced with other systems such as kitchen staff serving food to workers
- All small food items and snacks should be individually wrapped whenever possible or made available with systems to prevent common touching of either food items or utensils
- Only kitchen workers and supervisory staff shall be permitted to enter food preparation or storage areas
- Signs shall be posted to limit the number of people permitted in the dining area and any other common areas
- Use a staggered meal schedule to support physical distancing and to limit the number of individuals in the dining area at any given time
- Meals should be delivered to the outside of rooms of any workers that are in isolation
- All employees must wash their hands immediately prior to entering any dining or food preparation area
Employer and employee health self-assessment
Employees must be instructed on how to complete self assessment tools to monitor for symptoms of COVID-19.
- Employees who have indicated symptoms of COVID-19 before arriving to the work site or accommodation site, will not be able to work as per a Provincial Health Officer approved self assessment guideline. Guidelines can be found at BCCDC’s COVID-19 Testing information
- Employees must complete a self-assessment tool at the start and end of each shift.
- Employees who determine they may have signs or symptoms of COVID-19 based on the self assessment tool, will remove themselves from the work environment and initiate isolation, immediately report to the coordinator, while ensuring physical distancing of 2m (e.g., reporting by phone).
- Employees should be trained on how to report symptoms and immediately access required assistance. For more information visit BCCDC’s COVID-19 Employers & Businesses
Employer responsibility for screening of workers upon arrival and staff health
- Ensure your employee illness policy is up-to-date and communicated to all staff immediately
- Employers must assess all employees and contractors prior to proceeding to the work site and/or work camp
- Employers must notify workers to complete a Self-Assessment Tool to determine if further assessment or testing for COVID-19 is needed
- Contact 8-1-1 or their medical provider if further health advice is required; and 9-1-1 if it is an emergency
- Any testing for COVID-19 will be done in accordance with the BCCDC’s up-to-date guidance on COVID-19 testing protocols
- Advise employees and contractors to immediately report symptoms of illness (e.g. cough, fever, shortness of breath, gastrointestinal signs) to the coordinator who will provide information on the appropriate next steps (i.e. leave the work site and self isolate, or report to the onsite medical clinic)
- Employees will not return to work until they have been reassessed through the self assessment tool and/or their medical provider
Monitoring employees for illness
- Develop and update a common workplace policy regarding what to do when your employees are ill, with the coordinator(s) responsible for monitoring staff daily for COVID-19 like symptoms
- Employees must monitor their symptoms daily for common cold or influenza like illness or symptoms compatible with COVID-19 and must notify the coordinator immediately
- The use of the BC COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool will assist the employee in identifying the symptoms of COVID-19
If COVID-19 symptoms develop in the workplace, employees must be informed of personal access to medical support for COVID-19 (i.e. 8-1-1) or their medical provider or a local virtual clinic (if available) by the employer. If an employee becomes ill with COVID-19 like symptoms, self-isolation measures should be put into place as per PHO approved guidelines. Employers must notify local Medical Health Officers if there is an outbreak or suspicion of an outbreak.
- Detailed instructions for self-isolation can be found on the BCCDC’s Self-Isolation
If an employee or contractor displays symptoms of COVID-19, they are required to begin self-isolation immediately, and consult with the self-assessment tool or a medical provider. If testing for COVID-19 is indicated, then an employee or contractor should remain isolated until the results of that test are known and advice is provided by the medical provider accordingly. If a test is not indicated the self-isolation should continue until symptoms improve and any fever has resolved.
If an employee has common cold or influenza like illness or symptoms compatible with COVID-19 (fever, cough, shortness of breath) and are hospitalized, or the employee is identified by public health as a person who is part of a cluster or outbreak, arrangements will be made for a COVID-19 test:
- If an employee tests positive for COVID-19, they must self-isolate for a minimum of 10 days from symptom onset AND ensure their symptoms, including fever, have completely resolved
- If an employee tests negative for COVID-19, they must self-isolate until their common cold or influenza like symptoms have completely resolved
- Please keep up-to-date on B.C.’s requirements for who must self-isolate
- As of March 25, 2020, all persons arriving in Canada must self-isolate (quarantine) and monitor for symptoms for 14 days under the Quarantine Act
- All international travellers returning to British Columbia are required by law to self-isolate for 14 days upon their arrival and complete a self-isolation plan
Self-isolation and accommodation requirements
Employers have a responsibility to provide safe isolation, monitoring and care for the employees that become ill, as well as to protect the staff on site from transmission.
For those employees that are living in accommodations at the industrial camp, isolation practices MUST include:
- A room with a separate room separate entrance
- A separate shower/toilet will be designated and cleaned immediately following use
- Workers receiving daily wages and meal support
- Meals will be provided or delivered to the individual in isolation
- Must be checked a minimum of twice daily to ascertain if medical assistance is required
Self isolation at home may be an option for those employees who live close to the work camp, and are within close driving distance to their home to be able to safely travel home without stopping.
Detailed instructions for self-isolation can be found on the BCCDC’s Self-Isolation.
Waste management for ill workers
- Designate one person, or small team to handle waste from all self-isolation rooms
- All waste can go into regular garbage bags; line the container with a plastic bag
- Take care not to touch the inside of the container, and wash hands well after emptying the waste
Monitoring close contacts of COVID-19 cases
For employees that have come into close contact with someone with confirmed COVID-19 on the advice of local public health officer, advise them to call HealthLink BC at 8-1-1 or their medical provider to determine any necessary next steps.
Employers must ensure that the following employees do not come to work and begin self isolation. In some cases specific orders may need to be followed. Those orders will be identified through a case-by-case system.
- Workers who are ill, whether or not the illness has been confirmed as COVID-19
- Workers with COVID‐19-like symptoms must begin self-isolation and be reassessed for when they can return to work
- Workers who share a residence with a person who has been exposed to COVID-19
Workers have the right to refuse work if they believe it presents an undue hazard.
An undue hazard is an “unwarranted, inappropriate, excessive, or disproportionate” risk, above and beyond the potential exposure a general member of the public would face through regular, day-to-day activity.
If a worker refuses work and the matter is not resolved, the worker and the supervisor or employer must contact WorkSafeBC. Once that occurs, a prevention officer will consult with workplace parties to determine whether there is an undue hazard and issue orders if necessary.
For more information, see WorkSafe BC’s Occupational Health and Safety Guideline G3.12.
People who are contacts of a confirmed COVID-19 case, meaning they have been, or could have been, exposed to the virus, but do not have symptoms, should
- Immediately self-isolate
- Continue to monitor their symptoms
- Contact public health
For employees that have come into contact with someone with COVID-19, read BCDC’s Dos and don’ts of self-isolation (PDF, 478KB).
Every PHO order, including oral orders, must be complied with.
- Non-compliance is an offence under the Public Health Act
- If a business is unable to implement PHO orders and guidance the business owner may need to close the business
General Hiring Information
- Free centralized resource site managed by the Province of British Columbia
- B.C.’s leading job access site for tourism and hospitality has provided free access to the agriculture sector to post job ads in order to target individuals from the tourism and hospitality sectors
- BC Food and Beverage Association provides a marketplace for employers to post job ads for the food and beverage processing sector
- A recruitment and job seeking assistance service for both employers and those seeking employment
- A company that provides global talent solutions in agriculture and food
- Specializes in recruitment, focusing on the largest sector in Canada, the agribusiness sector
General hiring financial supports
- The Government of Canada recently announced temporary changes to the summer jobs program that will help employers hire summer youth staff of ages between 15 – 30 years old. To find out more about applications for the program, please contact your Member of Parliament.
- The Get Youth Working Program offers employers that hire and train eligible youth and provide full time sustainable employment a negotiated Wage Subsidy incentive.
- The Youth Employment and Skills Program provides a wage subsidy to employers who hire youth for agricultural jobs. The program offers support for 50% of wages to a maximum of $14,000.
Canada Emergency Response Benefit and Hiring
Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)
The Government of Canada is changing the eligibility rules to allow people to earn up to $1,000 per month while collecting the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).
- People can work up to $1000 per month and remain eligible to collect the CERB of $2,000 per month. This could incentivize people to seek part-time agricultural work to receive a maximum total of $3,000 per month
- Essential workers (including food supply) will be eligible for a temporary top-up to the salaries of workers deemed essential in the fight against COVID-19, who make less than $2,500 a month. Details as to the application and delivery of this measure have not yet been released
CERB and part-time work
The federal government recently announced they are changing the CERB to allow people to earn up to $1000 per month and remain eligible to collect the CERB (an additional $2,000 per month).
Th benefit is available to workers:
- Residing in Canada, who are at least 15 years old
- Who have stopped working because of reasons related to COVID-19 or are eligible for Employment Insurance regular or sickness benefits or have exhausted their Employment Insurance regular benefits or Employment Insurance fishing benefits between December 29, 2019 and October 3, 2020
- Who had employment and/or self-employment income of at least $5,000 in 2019 or in the 12 months prior to the date of their application; and,
- Who have not quit their job voluntarily
- To get the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, individuals may not earn more than $1,000 for a period of at least 14 consecutive days within the initial four-week period of your claim or $1000 in total for each subsequent claim
Employment and Social Development Canada has advised that individuals who do not meet these criteria but are provided the CERB benefit in the short-term, will be required to reimburse the benefit at a future date. For more information, please contact Employment and Social Development Canada, a human resource professional or employment lawyer.
For further information about CERB, read the Government of Canada’s CERB Questions and Answers
Hiring Workers from Out of Province
While domestic workers who travel inter-provincially for work are not at this time required to self-isolate prior to beginning work, the Ministry of Agriculture continues to work with the Provincial Health Office to address the safety of all agriculture workers and surrounding communities.
If you are expecting inter-provincial labour this season, we encourage you to email the Ministry of Agriculture at AgriServiceBC@gov.bc.ca for updates on inter-provincial labour health and safety information and best practices.
The Ministry of Agriculture is working closely with key stakeholders and decision-makers, including foreign governments and health officials, to help farmers and processors safely employ the foreign farmworkers they need, and explore new ways to encourage employment opportunities for British Columbians in the agriculture sector.
If you are employing temporary foreign workers, there are two key items to know
- Temporary foreign workers must self-isolate for 14 days
- There are both federal and provincial regulation requirements
Requirements for Temporary Foreign Workers during COVID-19
All temporary foreign workers (TFWs) arriving in British Columbia for seasonal farm work will be required to self-isolate in government-managed accommodations for 14 days prior to being transported to farms throughout B.C. during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The Province will fund hotel and food-service costs during the 14-day self-isolation period
- The Province is also providing access to socio-economic and cultural supports for workers while they self-isolate.
- To find out more about the 14-day isolation period, read
Regulations, Inspections and Evaluations
- Federal Ministers’ Foreign Worker Employment Letter
- Outlines the Government of Canada’s expectations of employers seeking to bring in temporary foreign workers to Canada
- Government of Canada COVID Compliance Requirements
- Outlines requirements for compliance inspections for employers of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program during the COVID-19 pandemic
- Province of BC COVID Compliance Requirements
- Outlines requirements for compliance for employers of and Temporary Foreign Workers during the COVID-19 pandemic
- Provincial Health Officer Industrial Camps Order
- Outlines requirements for compliance for employers who provide accommodation to workers during the COVID-19 pandemic
Support and Information
- Government of Canada – Temporary Foreign Workers
- Provides answers to frequently asked questions for changes to the Temporary Foreign Workers Program required at a Federal level.
- Western Agriculture Labour Initiative
- Provides resources for farmers and Temporary Foreign Workers
- Seasonal Agriculture Worker Program
- Government of Canada official resources and program