Investing in Technology to Protect Agri-Food Workers

New funding in agriculture innovations will help enhance the health and safety of workers and improve the sector’s efficiency and productivity

One of our PC government’s top priorities is to guard against the spread of COVID-19 in agri-food workplaces to protect the health and safety of workers, especially temporary foreign workers, and ensure Ontario’s food supply chain remains strong so Ontario families can continue to have food on the table.

That’s why we are launching the Agri-tech Innovation Program, a $22 million program to increase the adoption of technological innovations within the agri-food sector. This funding will help farming operations and processor businesses adopt innovative and new technologies that will better protect the health and safety of their workers and improve the sector’s efficiency and productivity.

“This large investment is a significant step forward by our government in using innovative technology to guard against the spread of COVID-19 in agri-food workplaces and protect worker health and safety,” said Ernie Hardeman, MPP for Oxford and Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. “Through the adoption of advanced agriculture technology, we’re helping the sector find new and unique ways to address pandemic challenges while at the same time setting agri-food businesses up for future growth and success in modern agriculture.”

Subject to program eligibility criteria, applications for funding could include for example advanced technologies such as optical grading and sorting system in vegetable processing or automated, robotic vineyard pruning robots. Ontario will also invest in high-impact social projects for agri-food workers as part of this component.

The intake announced today is the second stage of the $25.5 million Agri-food Prevention and Control Innovation Program announced in Ontario’s fall 2020 budget. The first intake will run from May 17 to June 21, 2021. Further details about the intake will be available through the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs website as of May 17, 2021.

As we continue to battle against COVID-19, our government continues to work with its municipal, provincial and federal partners, and with the farming community to help protect farm worker safety and wellness and maintain the sustainability and viability of the agri-food sector.

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