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Updates for COTA Members Re: COVID-19 from Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada/Canadian Food Inspection Agency  

The Canada Organic Trade Association (COTA), as the national voice of Canada’s organic sector, is continuing to participate in regular conference calls being hosted by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). Our objective is to keep information flowing between industry and government – to provide critical information to assist you all in guiding your businesses during COVID-19 measures being in place. 

Updates from the Friday, March 27th call. 

Updates to temporary Foreign Workers’ access.  The Order in Council required to create the legal exemption for temporary foreign agriculture workers to enter Canada during the COVID-19 travel restrictions as received Royal Assent. This paves the way to allow these important workers to entre Canada. The in-coming workers will still be required to respect the mandatory 14-day quarantine requirement. It was clarified that in some circumstances a group of workers may be quarantined together but maintain the 2-metre social-distancing requirements at all times during the 14 days, meaning it would be difficult in many cases to have these workers working during their quarantine period. More information can be found at Temporary Foreign Workers. It was also emphasized that the responsibility to have the quarantine requirements respected will fall to the employer bringing these workers into Canada. 

CFIA update. The CFIA continues to develop guidance for how to deal with the potential that a CFIA inspector is found to test positive for COVID-19. They are very much consumed by efforts to maintain the health of employees, both within CFIA as well as in those establishments where inspectors much attend. This guidance is going to be primarily focused on assisting CFIA managers but will provide guidance to assist in managing the relationship between the CFIA and its regulated parties and protect both staff compliments.  

Global supply chains. The government of Canada continues to monitor global supply chains and trade. Governments around the world are closing borders and restricting access both in and out of their borders. The latest information is that container shipments continue to move, although with sometimes significant delays. For shipments going east, there are some delays in the port of Vancouver, but shipments are moving. Government officials understand that container shipments into India will be quarantined for 14 days at port. There continues to be a shortage of containers in North America as much of the capacity has been delayed at various ports in China. In Mexico the government has shut down its service severely but has committed to maintaining customs and border services to assist in maintaining the flow of goods.  

Industry Stakeholder Call (open to all). Today’s call was the second in a series of “twice-per-week conversations that AAFC has initiated for any stakeholder interested in taking part. These calls are Tuesdays and Thursdays at 12:00 (noon) Eastern time. 

- English Line:1-877-413-4814 or locally 613-960-7519 (Passcode: 2471610 #) 

- En français: 1-877-413-4815 ou en region 613-960-7526 (Passcode: 3385231 #) 

If you are interested in taking part in these calls, feel free to dial in. There is simultaneous translation on the call, and thus there are separate lines depending on if you wish to listen to the conversations in English or French. Typically, there have been a number of presentations by officials and then an opportunity to ask questions from the phone.


If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact COTA’s Manager of Policy and Research, Brian Lemon at blemon@canada-organic.ca or call 613-482-1717 ext. 206. 

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