That means as many as 5,000 temporary foreign workers expected to arrive in Canada in the coming months are being held back, for now.
“It’s so we can reassess with the federal authorities, provinces and farmers why this happened and if there is anything to correct,” Juan Jose Gomez Camacho said in an interview.
The two men — one died this month and the other in late May — were employed by different farms in the Windsor, Ont., area, a farming heartland in southwestern Ontario that has seen ongoing outbreaks.
The outbreaks were cited Monday as the reason Ontario Premier Doug Ford said the region can’t follow in the footsteps of others and loosen restrictions designed to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Ford was quick to say people shouldn’t blame the workers.
“They came here, they self-isolated for two weeks and they picked it up since they’ve been here,” he said.
“So I don’t want any finger pointing at these hard-working migrant workers. They’re good people, they mean well, and they’re hard workers too.”
Gomez Camacho said across Canada, 300 Mexicans are believed to have been infected with the novel coronavirus.
His government needs assurances that the situation can be brought under control, he said, before allowing more workers to arrive.
He said agriculture firms reporting outbreaks are even asking Mexico to keep sending people, and “that will not happen.”
Coronavirus outbreak: Mexico’s massive market stirs coronavirus worries
But he said the pause is intended to be temporary, respecting the fact that farmers often need workers at specific times, and the government isn’t trying to spoil that.
“We are pausing this quickly now to understand,” he said.
The decision to hit pause is a further blow to the agriculture industry which has been struggling to find enough labour to handle this year’s planting and harvest season, due in large part to the travel restrictions in place to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Coronavirus: The unanswered questions around COVID-19
Mexicans make up about half of the temporary foreign worker population employed in the agriculture sector, which in 2018 meant there were 25,060 people employed on farms, in greenhouses and other related jobs.
The dizzying array of government departments charged with ensuring workers are being treated well is difficult to navigate at the best of times, and COVID-19 threw up even more challenges, Gomez Camacho said.
But he commended the Canadian government for making what he called a “tremendous” effort to put protections in place to limit the spread of COVID-19.
Programs have been implemented at both federal and provincial levels to assist temporary foreign workers since the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. They include money to cover the costs of mandatory isolation requirements as well as the purchase of personal protective equipment.
Gomez Camacho said the Mexican government worked with Canadian officials to design some of those supports, including a provision that workers be paid while they were in isolation upon arriving in Canada.
The vast majority of firms are complying, he said.
“But we also know, we have always known, some will not,” he said.
On his government’s part, they also put in a place a program this year that saw only workers who were requested by name by Canada’s farms and greenhouses allowed to travel here.
Coronavirus around the world: May 22, 2020
He said many workers are connected to small family farms, and have developed relationships over time.
The pause on allowing more to arrive is a nod to that relationship, he said.
“We are doing this out of solidarity with Canada,” he said.
“We understand the role these workers play in your food chain.”
Gomez Camacho said one bright light of the COVID-19 crisis is that Canadians seem to be understanding that as well.
He said the embassy and consulates have fielded calls from Canadians thanking Mexicans for their efforts, and supporting calls for better safeguards on their work.
He said he believes that could be a permanent change in attitude, and will keep working to make it that way.
© 2020 The Canadian Press
Uber getting into grocery delivery business in Canada – CBC.ca
Uber Technologies Inc. is getting into the grocery delivery business and is using some Canadian cities to help it launch the venture.
The San Francisco-based tech giant said Tuesday that users in Montreal and Toronto can now order groceries through its Uber and Uber Eats apps.
“They’ll be able to place orders from local merchants and receive them in as little as one to two hours,” Daniel Danker, who runs Uber’s product team, told reporters.
A demonstration of the new service showed thousands of items available from retailers including Walmart, Metro, Rexall, Costco, Longos, Pet Valu and Well.ca.
The company’s foray into the grocery sector comes after Uber advertised in November 2018 that it was hiring a head of grocery product in Toronto.
The company remained secretive about the role, but a year later, Uber’s potential interest in a grocery service was a hot topic again when it announced it was acquiring a majority stake in Chilean grocery delivery startup Cornershop.
The deal was held up by a Mexican Competition Authority investigation, but is supposed to close in the coming days.
Competition in grocery delivery market
Cornershop will serve as Uber’s partner in the grocery delivery venture, which will launch in more than a dozen Latin American cities alongside the Canadian markets.
Uber faces stiff competition with its new service. Amazon.com Inc. and Instacart are already going head-to-head with supermarket brands like Walmart and Loblaw Companies Ltd.
Uber believes it can edge out some of the competition because it sees groceries as a natural extension of its booming food delivery service and a way for the company to become a one-stop shop for every meal.
Grocery delivery has only become more important during the COVID-19 pandemic because more Canadians have transitioned to work from home and Uber’s ride-hailing business is still in “recovery mode,” according to Danker.
“I think this would have made a lot sense in a pre-COVID world, but our world has just fundamentally changed and so this represents even more of a huge responsibility for us,” Danker said.
Federal-provincial co-ordination might have prevented COVID-19 outbreak, says premier – CBC.ca
An outbreak of COVID-19 in the Maritimes on the weekend might have been avoided if Canada Border Services had better communication with the provinces, says P.E.I. Premier Dennis King.
The outbreak, including four out of five new cases on P.E.I. and one in Nova Scotia, started with a man travelling from the U.S. to Canada on a student visa. The man was reportedly planning to study on P.E.I. but was turned away at Confederation Bridge because he did not have pre-approval.
As it turned out, the man did have COVID-19. He spread it to a P.E.I. man he met with in Nova Scotia, and the Island man spread it to three other people back on P.E.I.
Speaking on CBC’s Island Morning Tuesday, King said while he doesn’t have the specifics of this case, it is likely the man would not have been admitted to the province for study at this time, despite having a student visa allowing him to study in Canada.
“We need to have a greater, in-synch protocol in place between the border services and the provincial jurisdictions,” said King.
“When an individual crosses the international border, such as into Toronto, are border agents asking them if your final destination is X, have you been in touch with that jurisdiction to make sure all of your protocols are met. What we’re trying to determine now is, is that question being asked.”
King noted that P.E.I. has turned away dozens of travellers at Confederation Bridge for not having documentation.
Governments are still working on putting in place systems so that border controls can work efficiently and effectively, King said.
Bubble still open
The new cases in the Maritimes came on the same weekend as freedom of movement around Atlantic Canada.
With the opening of the Atlantic bubble, residents of the four eastern provinces can move around the region without having to self-isolate. Border controls between the provinces remain in place.
Officials on P.E.I. have emphasized that this outbreak is in no way connected to the Atlantic bubble, and King said he is not at this time considering closing it.
P.E.I.’s contact tracing system was tested by this outbreak and it worked very well, he said.
“In this particular case I’m very, very pleased and proud of the public health officials and how they’ve undertaken their jobs,” said King.
He said he would only consider closing the bubble if an outbreak caused a strain on either the contact tracing system or the health system.
But he emphasized he is ready to shut the bubble down, and do it quickly, to protect the health of Islanders.
More from CBC P.E.I.
Canada adds 288 new coronavirus cases as curve continues to flatten – Globalnews.ca
The number was nearly identical to the totals recorded for Saturday and Sunday. Many provinces waited until Monday to report those numbers, taking a weekend break from daily updates.
Nine more deaths were reported Monday as well, three of them in Quebec — marking the lowest death toll for the province since April 2. The remaining six were in British Columbia, representing a cumulative total since Friday. One of the deaths occurred in June, but has only now been attributed to COVID-19.
Ontario also reported no new deaths Monday for the first time since the end of March.
Canada has now seen 105,915 lab-confirmed cases, along with 8,693 deaths. A total of 69,570 cases have since recovered.
Although it didn’t see any new deaths, Ontario still reported 154 new coronavirus cases Monday, and Quebec saw 74 more cases.
Nova Scotia reported one new case, the only Atlantic province to do so Monday.
Saskatchewan saw three more cases over the past 24 hours, while Manitoba stayed clear of new infections. Alberta added 49 new cases, and British Columbia reported seven.
While the Yukon and Northwest Territories haven’t reported any new cases for over two months now, Nunavut is awaiting confirmation of its first-ever presumptive case, which was reported Thursday.
All provinces and territories are in the midst of slowly reopening their economies after weeks of shutdowns at the height of the pandemic, which federal modelling suggests remains on a downward trajectory.
Daily totals of new cases have been hovering around 300 for over a week, after spiking past 400 in late June.
We could see a rise in diseases like COVID-19 because of climate change
Worldwide, the novel coronavirus pandemic has grown to over 11.5 million confirmed cases and has killed at least 536,000 people, according to public health data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
In the United States, confirmed cases are closing in on three million as cases continue to surge in several states. The country has been reporting an average of 50,000 new cases daily since the end of June.
Researchers and public health officials around the world say the true number of infections is likely far higher due to limitations in testing.
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
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