Should temporary foreign farm workers be offered COVID-19 vaccination upon arrival in B.C.?

Poll: farm worker vaccines

Activist groups are lobbying the provincial government to ensure migrant farm workers are prioritized in B.C.’s immunization program.

Temporary foreign workers from Mexico and the Caribbean are already arriving in B.C. for the upcoming agricultural season. Programs developed last year will see the workers quarantine in hotels in Vancouver before being sent to their respective farms in places like the Okanagan Valley.

Radical Action with Migrants in Agriculture (RAMA Okanagan) is one of six groups to sign onto a letter sent this week to the BC government, saying living conditions and a lack of paid sick days put migrant workers at a higher risk of contracting the virus.

“This pandemic has revealed how vulnerable farm workers are during health emergencies. In 2020, some of the largest outbreaks of COVID-19 were on farms. Thousands of farm workers across Canada were exposed, many became ill and three migrant farm workers died of COVID-19,” the letter says.

An outbreak last spring within a group of migrant workers at Bylands in West Kelowna resulted in 23 cases.

RAMA says they have heard from several workers this year who are worried about returning to Canada due to the pandemic.

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