Windsor-Essex rescinds 3-week delay on arrival of agriculture workers

The public health unit in Ontario’s Windsor-Essex region has reversed course on a plan to stop the arrival of temporary agriculture workers amid the Omicron surge.

The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit (WECHU) said Friday that a letter of instruction issued earlier this week has been rescinded, effective immediately.

That letter said employers must cancel, suspend or postpone the arrival of temporary foreign workers to the region between Jan. 13 and Feb. 1. 

“Throughout the week the health unit has worked with all levels of government to formulate a resolution to this issue,” the WECHU said in a statement on Friday.

“With the concerted efforts of local leaders in the health-care, housing and social services … the region collectively was able to establish the level of support necessary to meet isolation requirements for workers who are sick or who have been exposed.”

The letter was issued amid concerns about whether existing resources can support the high number of workers with COVID-19 or who are isolating due to exposure.

“We’re in a public health emergency in Windsor-Essex and the burden of COVID-19 among the migrant farm worker community at this time exceeds the community resources,” acting medical officer of health Dr. Shanker Nesathurai said during a media briefing Wednesday.

As of Thursday, there were 66 cases among workers and another 173 in isolation, according to WECHU.

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