(Creston, BC – June 19, 2020) — Fields Forward Society is supporting COVID-19 health and safety training for agriculture workers in collaboration with Ron Macc of AgSafe BC. The training is available for farmers and coordinators that provide accommodation to Canadian agriculture workers so they can learn how to set up a safe work camp.
The first training session successfully ran on Friday, June 19 with 25 farmers in attendance. Participants can pre-book their spot immediately by emailing Fields Forward Coordinator Elizabeth Quinn at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Creston community has voiced concerns regarding incoming pickers from other provinces who may contribute to spreading the virus. At the same time, local farmers are on edge, anxious that they won’t be able to meet production requirements this season without them. This latest order from the provincial government addressing industrial camps aims to strike a balance between both sides. Pickers staying in public and private campgrounds will be offered training as well.
Fields Forward spoke with orchardists in April about the upcoming season, and asked whether training on how to meet COVID-19 health and safety protocol was needed. Since then, Fields Forward began organizing training for orchardists, COVID-Coordinators and Pickers. The Creston Valley-Kootenay Lake Economic Action Partnership committee provided the funding to support the training through a BC Government Rural Dividend grant.
“We’ll watch and see what happens in the Okanagan Valley with Pickers arriving there several weeks before coming to the Creston Valley,” said Elizabeth Quinn Fields Forward coordinator. “We are in touch with the BC Fruit Growers Association representative in the Okanagan who is also providing COVID health and safety training. Thankfully, many pickers will already be trained once they arrive in Creston.”
Creston’s town council also says they have been helping implement safety protocols for farmers.
“The Emergency Operation Centre has been assisting farmers with Best Practices for COVID-19,” said Creston town councillor Jen Comer.
The Order of the Provincial Health Officer addressing industrial camps that aims at limiting the spread of COVID-19 needs an implementation strategy. The order applies to farmers and orchardist who provide accommodations to their workers.
The Order states employers who provide accommodations must develop an infection prevention protocol that enforces high levels of accommodation, worksite, and worker hygiene and a rapid response protocol that includes self-isolation in the case that a worker develops symptoms.
Once these protocols have been developed, they must pass inspection by a health officer or Provincial infection prevention and control officer.
In addition, employers are responsible for appointing a coordinator to act as a liaison between the employer and a health officer. The coordinator will then monitor all workers for symptoms daily and keep a detailed log.
For more information and to stay up to date on the province’s latest orders regarding COVID-19, please visit www2.gov.bc.ca.
Fields Forward Society envisions a vibrant productive local agri-food system. For more information visit www.fieldsforward.ca.
Fields Forward Coordinator
Elizabeth Quinn 778-235-0850