COVID-19: Impact on the Alberta Beekeeping Industry and Support Resources

With the COVID-19 pandemic spreading fast world-wide, the Alberta Beekeepers Commission (ABC) would like to extend our thoughts to all of those who have been impacted by this virus.

At this time, we want to reassure Eligible Producers that the ABC is continuing to provide support to producers as we work through the immediate issues impacting producers during this unprecedented situation.

The ABC Board and staff are on hand to assist with information, resources and updates during this time. Our staff are working remotely and will also be attending the office intermittently. Please feel free to reach out to us at anytime. Visit our About page for all our contact information.

Latest info

NEW June 5

Supporting Alberta’s beekeepers during COVID-19

In response to the recent challenges faced by Alberta’s beekeepers, Agriculture and Forestry is introducing a new Canadian Agricultural Partnership program. Media release here.

NEW May 7

Mandatory Isolation Support for Temporary Foreign Workers Program

The Mandatory Isolation Support for Temporary Foreign Workers Program (MISTFWP) is a one-time $50-million program to help with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on food supply in Canada by assisting the farming, fish harvesting, and food production and processing sectors. The program will assist Canadian employers with some of the incremental costs associated with the mandatory 14-day isolation period imposed under the Quarantine Act on temporary foreign workers upon entering Canada. Click here for full info and application form.

The claim will cover the period between March 26 – June 30. All claims must be received by August 15th. Please send all completed applications to:

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada – Mandatory Isolation Support for Temporary Foreign Workers Program

1341 Baseline Road

Tower 7, 7th floor

Ottawa ON K1A 0C5

Email: aafc.MISP-PAIO.aac@canada.ca

Telephone: 1-877-246-4682

Fax: 1-877-949-4885


NEW May 1

Nucs and Queens for sale

ABC is compiling an Alberta list of beekeepers selling nucs and queens to Alberta beekeepers. Please download the latest list here. If you have nucs, bees on brood, and/or hives for sale, please email jules.ham@albertabeekeepers.ca to be added to the above list.

Please refer to latest information from the Government of Alberta on Inspection requirements for interprovincial movement of honey bees into and through Alberta.


NEW April 28

Safety and PPE

Effective immediately the agriculture and food sector, as a recognized essential service, can submit PPE orders directly to the Logistics Section of Municipal Affairs’ Alberta Emergency Management Agency’s Provincial Operations Centre (AEMA-POC) for procurement on their behalf.

Agriculture and Food Sector Industry 3-Step Order Process:

  • Prior to placing an order, review the Government of Alberta PPE Guideline document to ensure that requests are eligible and/or appropriate: https://www.alberta.ca/assets/documents/covid-ma-cof-ppe-guidelines-distribution.pdf NOTE: If unsure consider engaging an OHS or Industrial Hygienist for an assessment.
  • Submit orders online at https://xnet.gov.ab.ca/ppe
  • In the comments, it is recommended to include information such as the number of staff that will use the order and any OHS/Industrial Hygienist assessments to support the order. NOTE: The attached spreadsheet simulating most of the data required in the online submission has been provided for your internal use only; this spreadsheet is not an official order form and is provided to support planning of your PPE needs.
  • The AEMA-POC Logistics Section currently contacts organizations for delivery and billing information closer to the shipment date; the POC Logistics Section indicated that orders are approximately 2-4 weeks on back-order. NOTE: An enhanced on-line ordering system is under development. Once completed it will allow organizations to track their order status.
  • Should you have any questions or concerns, please contact the Ag-Info Centre by phone at 310-FARM or by email at aginfocentre@gov.ab.ca.   Thank you all for the hard work you are doing to keep your staff safe while ensuring Alberta’s food supply chain continues to operate effectively.

NEW April 17: 

Workers and isolation requirements

We’ve been receiving lots of questions in regard to workers and isolation requirements. While Agriculture workers have been designated “essential service workers” by both the federal and provincial governments, they are NOT exempt from the 14 day isolation period require of travellers arriving to Canada. Below are links to various resources:

  1. Frequently asked questions: Changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program regarding COVID-19
  2. Alberta resources
  3. Federal Government awareness resources
  4. A link to information regarding changes to CFIA inspections, and
  5. A link to the Alberta Job connector – this is an updated job bank and is connected to the Canada job bank.  If you are looking for workers and you are currently running an ad in the Canada job bank it will automatically be posted to the Alberta job connector

NEW April 14

Food Safety

CFIA expectations for the prevention of and response to suspected and confirmed cases of COVID-19 by operators


Labour

April 14: Logistics & Border-Related Labour Questions

Latest information from the Government of Canada:

Temporary foreign workers, some international students and approved permanent residents who haven’t yet landed are now able to enter Canada.

The travel restriction exemptions that were announced are now in place. If you’re exempt, you can now travel to Canada. If you’re travelling by air, you need to pass a health check before you’re allowed to board your flight. Anyone who shows symptoms of COVID-19 will not be allowed to enter Canada by air. When you arrive in Canada we’ll assess your health before you leave the port of entry. You must isolate for 14 days even if you have no symptoms. This is mandatory. Only people who provide essential services and truck drivers who regularly cross the border to maintain the flow of goods are exempt from the isolation requirements.

For full details please consult the Canada Government website here

The ABC, CHC, and a number of beekeeping organizations across the country, together with 17 other Agricultural organizations successfully advocated to the Federal Government for an exemption for approved TFW and SAWP workers to enter Canada.

Latest information from Vacation World:

The ABC was advised on April 4 by Vacation World, that:

SAWP travel update

The ABC was advised on April 4 by Vacation World, that:

  • Alberta and Saskatchewan have been allotted the weeks commencing April 13 and April 20 as first lift time frames possible, subject to final approval. Two lifts have been confirmed commercially for documented SAWP workers that are able to travel.
  • ABC, CHC, or Vacation World will confirm dates with everyone as soon as possible
  • The above is all subject to approval from the Ministry of Labour in Mexico and availability of flights

EPs expecting SAWP workers from Mexico should, if you haven’t already, start to receive information from Vacation World on arrival dates of workers. For specific information regarding flights for your workers, please contact Vacation World at 403.265.0431.

TFW travel update

The ABC was advised on April 8 by Vacation World, that:

  • Vacation World will be organizing a charter from Mexico City to Calgary April 24th.  This flight is for NON SAWP Workers
  • The price will be $975.00 Canadian – this price is still subject to exchange rate fluctuation.  So the sooner booked and paid for the better.
  • The tickets are non changeable and non-refundable
  •  Please have all information and payment  to Vacation World NO LATER THAN 4:00pm APRIL 14TH

Please ensure your workers have the correct documentation prior to boarding.  If they are denied boarding due to lack of or incorrect documentation the ticket will be lost.


COVID-19 Information Update from AAFC

April 14, 2020

On April 13, 2020 Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada announced $50 million to help farmers, fish harvesters, and all food production and processing employers, put in place the measures necessary to follow the mandatory 14-day isolation period required of all workers arriving from abroad. The news release can be found here.

We would like to share with you a few updates related to COVID-19 that you may find of interest. Please do not hesitate to share this information with your networks.

Canada Emergency Business Account

The new Canada Emergency Business Account will provide interest-free loans of up to $40,000 to small businesses and not-for-profits, to help cover their operating costs during a period where their revenues have been temporarily reduced. Through EDC, the program will provide Canadian financial institutions with additional funding to support micro enterprises. This program will roll out in mid-April, and interested businesses should work with their current financial institutions.

To qualify, interested businesses will need to demonstrate that they paid between $50,000 to $1 million in total payroll in 2019. Repaying the balance of the loan on or before December 31, 2022 will result in loan forgiveness of 25 percent (up to $10,000). The objective of this program is to support covering non-deferrable costs of very small business, such as payroll, rent, insurance and utilities.

This tool will help farmers and food processors access the capital they need, at a zero-per-cent interest rate. This will help them cover extra costs over the next number of months if their revenues are temporarily reduced due to the COVID 19 situation.

Temporary Foreign Workers

We would like to remind you that the Temporary Foreign Worker Program has now posted new FAQs online. These FAQs provide new and updated guidance to employers regarding the payment of wages during the 14-day self isolation period, and should be used by employers and stakeholders to complement the Guidance to Employers that we previously shared with you.

In addition, the joint letter from the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health, and the Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, outlines the Government of Canada’s expectations of employers seeking to bring in temporary foreign workers to Canada.

Additional Details on the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy

The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, announced changes to the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy. This subsidy would now be available to eligible employers that see a drop of at least 15 per cent of their revenue in March 2020 and 30 per cent for the following months (see Eligible Periods). In applying for the subsidy, employers would be required to attest to the decline in revenue.

The Government of Canada also announced that all employers would be allowed to calculate their change in revenue using an alternative benchmark to determine their eligibility. For more information, please click here.

Temporary Changes to the Canada Summer Jobs Program

On April 8, the Prime Minister announced temporary changes to the Canada Summer Jobs program that will help employers hire young Canadians aged between 15 and 30 years during the summer. Employers can receive up to 100 per cent of the provincial or territorial minimum hourly wage for each employee. For more information, please contact your Member of Parliament.

Letter of Employment Confirmation – Essential transportation worker

Following the Government of Canada measures that have been put in place for COVID-19, as well as those of the municipal and provincial legislatures, Transport Canada has worked with industry to identify through a common letter those employed in the commercial motor vehicle and automotive industry in a critical service capacity, as set out in the Government of Canada’s Guidance on Essential Services and Functions in Canada During the COVID-19 Pandemic. To access the letter’s template, please click here.

Air Freight

Air Canada posted on their website that Air Canada Cargo will now accept bookings or live animal shipments, with the exclusion of cats and dogs.

CFIA’s temporary suspension of certain labelling requirements for foodservice products due to COVID-19

The CFIA has temporarily suspended certain labelling requirements for foodservice products that have no impact on food safety during the COVID-19 pandemic. As outlined in the notice to industry, under specific conditions, food businesses may:

  • sell food products that are made in Canada and intended for foodservice (such as hotels, restaurants and institutions) to consumers through retail if certain specific labelling information is included
  • re-import food products made, packaged and labelled in Canada for foodservice use that are labelled according to U.S. labelling requirements to sell to Canadian foodservice without label changes

Flexibility is also provided for labelling format, language requirements and standard container size requirements. This temporary measure aims to ease potential food shortages in the Canadian retail sector, prevent food waste, and support Canada’s economy without compromising food safety.

Fertilizer Canada’s Template for Essential Services Letter

As you know, Public Safety Canada’s Guidance on Essential Services and Functions in Canada During the COVID-19 Pandemic identifies agriculture and agri-food as an essential sector to facilitate the movement of essential workers within and between jurisdictions. Fertilizer Canada kindly agreed to share their essential services letter, which you may want to use as a template.

 Updates – International Trading Partners

United States:

We continue to monitor issues arising related to truckers crossing the Canada-U.S. border.

The US Customs and Border Protection office at the NY Buffalo/Lewiston bridge will be reducing their agriculture staffing between midnight to 8 am, but the Peace bridge will remain open.

As of Monday, April 6, 2020, as a result of slowdowns in cross-border traffic, the United States Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) will be reducing hours or closing several port of entries (POEs) in Vermont (reduced hours: Morses Line, North Troy, West Berkshire; closed: Canaan, Derby Rte. 5 and Alburgh Springs).  All of these POEs will still have an officer on staff 24/7 to allow for emergency vehicles and essential personnel to cross. Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) has indicated that they are not planning any closures on the Canadian side yet.

Regarding getting physical signatures on the bill of lading, CBSA noted that shipments normally use electronic customs entry and the driver is not required to show the signed bill of lading. If you have any issues related to this, please email the Roundtable account as soon as possible, with as many details as possible.

Mexico:

Due to the Mexican government’s shutdown, Mexico’s public health agency, COFERPRIS, is prioritizing import permits for medical supplies to address the COVID-19 emergency, between now and April 30, 2020. Impacted products from this change are limited to fish/seafood products, milk/dairy products, prepared fruit products/jams, and nutritional supplements.

The Mexican National Chamber of Milk Processors (CANILEC) has since clarified that while import permits will continue to be issued, it cannot guarantee that the five business days service standard will be met. As such, CANILEC recommends that permits are requested in advance of shipments arriving at the border and food shipments should be also be flagged as essential.

Thank you for your continued cooperation and please continue to consult regularly the AAFC website for updates. Please note that new Q&As have been posted on our website under a new section titled ‘Resources and recommendations for the agriculture and agri-food sector


Forms and Protocols

To support producers with meeting the guidelines and protocols put in place during COVID-19, please find below a range of forms and templates:

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