During the last few weeks, various sectors and businesses have been authorized to gradually resume their activities in Québec. The reopenings, approved by public health authorities, will occur in phases according to the areas of activity and geographic zones.
For information on the economic sectors authorized to reopen, please consult the page Reopening and maintaining economic activities . Please note that other sectors of activity will be added there according to the different announcements to be made by the government.
Public health authorities have been consulted and have determined that it was preferable to limit the reopening of businesses where active transmission is occurring, that is, in Greater Montréal. The operation must also occur gradually and sequentially to ascertain the repercussions of each wave of business reopenings on the virus’ progress and the healthcare system’s ability to deal with it.
The Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail (CNESST) has produced a practical guide for the manufacturing sector that indicates the measures to be adopted in manufacturing firms.
To obtain additional information, please visit the CNESST website .
Yes, it is anticipated that childcare services will reopen on May 11, 2020, except in the metropolitan area, where they will reopen on May 25, 2020.
In the meantime, the measures already announced concerning the emergency childcare services opened will continue to apply:
- emergency childcare services (childcare centres and subsidized childcare services) are reserved for the children up to 5 years of age of healthcare, social services and essential services staff up to and including May 1, 2020;
- emergency childcare services are open in the school setting for the children between 4 and 13 years of age of health and social services and essential services workers.
To obtain additional information, please consult the Web page on educational childcare services during the COVID-19 pandemic .
Tradespeople or loved ones who offer an essential or priority service or whose support is necessary can be admitted to the home. However, it is advisable to display caution and ensure that the service required cannot wait.
For example, calling a plumber to make an urgent repair is permitted. On the other hand, it is not recommended in the current context to call a plumber for work that can wait, such as the replacement of a working sink. This recommendation also applies to individuals or loved ones who come to do housekeeping.
If the service or support cannot wait, the individuals must maintain, as far as possible, a minimum distance of 2 metres from each other and apply the basic health recommendations.
Lastly, in situations where a service is offered for commercial purposes, it is also advisable to ensure that the service is included in the authorized priority services and activities.
Individuals who return from a trip must not go to work. When they return, they are obliged to self-isolate for 14 days.
Individuals who are not returning from a trip and who do not display any symptoms are asked to go to work if their employer’s services and activities are maintained and are deemed priority services and activities. However, such individuals must abide by the usual hygiene rules.
Individuals who are not returning from a trip and who do not display any symptoms are invited to go to work and to abide by the usual rules of hygiene.
Individuals who are not returning from a trip and who display cold- or flu-like symptoms are invited to display common sense and evaluate the relevance of going to work in light of their health status.
Yes, employers must take all necessary steps to protect workers’ health and ensure their safety and physical well-being, as provided for in section 51 of the Act respecting occupational health and safety.
Employers must implement measures to identify, monitor and eliminate biological risks. For example, they must apply the hygiene measures needed to limit the spread of a virus. They can also introduce work practices that promote physical distancing in order to minimize risk. The practices may, for example, include
- avoiding non-essential face-to-face meetings;
- using technology for communications with and between workers;
- promoting telework.
Employers can also introduce a workplace attendance policy for workers with signs and symptoms of infection during the pandemic. Workers must be informed of the correct steps to take if symptoms appear.
Workers themselves must take appropriate steps to protect their health, safety and physical well-being, and ensure that they do not endanger the health, safety or physical well-being of other nearby workers, in accordance with section 49 of the Act respecting occupational health and safety.
Yes. You can be absent from work, without pay, because of sickness or an accident. If you have 3 months’ continuous service, you can benefit from up to 2 days of paid sick leave per year.
You cannot be absent for more than 26 weeks in any 12-month period, starting from the date of the first absence. A worker’s regular position, and the related advantages, are protected by law while the worker is absent.
Your employer must allow you to return to your regular position at the pay level you would have reached had you remained at work.
More information is available on the CNESST website .
If a salaried work does not perform work, for example through teleworking, the employer is not obliged to remunerate him. However, employers are asked to display understanding and flexibility in the current situation. To find out more, please consult the CNESST website (French only).
A case-by-case evaluation must be carried out. Workers who do not provide essential services should stay home and, if possible, engage in teleworking. If this is impossible and the workers offer an essential services, they can continue to work if they are in good health and protective measures are adopted for them. The workers must apply such measures.
Food establishments can comply with recommendations and adopt best practices to protect their staff and customers. To learn more, consult the Recommendations for food establishment merchants (PDF 104 Kb).
The Public health expertise and reference centre (INSPQ) has produced a series of documents outlining preventative measures to take against the spread of COVID-19 in different work environments , including the following documents:
- Interim recommendations for the food processing industry
- Interim recommendations for grocery stores and essential businesses
- Recommendations for agricultural labourers working in livestock and vegetable production
- Interim recommendations for the fishing industry
- Interim recommendations for home deliveries (parcels and packages, restaurant delivery, groceries, etc.)
- Interim Recommendations for Veterinary Care Workers
- Interim recommendations for the meat slaughter industry
- Interim Recommendations for the Marine Products Processing Industry
- Interim Recommendations for the Fishing Industry
Some documents are also available in Spanish on the Institut national de santé publique du Québec (INSPQ) website: Publicaciones
You can also consult the Risk-informed decision-making guidelines for workplaces and businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic page to learn more about how to protect staff and customers in a work environment.
You can proactively validate the prevention measures as well as the response methods to act quickly if a positive case of COVID-19 is declared in an establishment.
Contact your local public occupational health network team. You can find the contact information under the “Régions” tab of Réseau de santé publique en santé au travail (RSPSAT) website.
Each bio-food sector employer is therefore responsible for providing its employees with a document that allows them to justify their travel to a region with limited access.
Under current guidelines, all persons are asked to avoid travelling from one region to another or from one city to another, except when necessary. Such travel should be limited to journeys for medical reasons, or for work where telework is not possible.
For more information on travel management and priority services and business activities, see the Travelling from one region to another or from one city to another during the COVID-19 pandemic page and full List of essential services and commercial activities .
People 70 years of age or older are at the greatest risk of suffering serious consequences from a COVID-19 infection. In order to protect their health, these individuals are asked to stay at home, except when necessary or in exceptional cases.
To obtain food, it is recommended that they use home delivery services or ask a friend or relative to do the shopping for them.
In this context, it is neither requested nor even advisable for food establishments to reserve time slots for such people to shop. On the contrary, it encourages them to go out and even gather together, which is not desirable.
So far, we have no evidence that COVID-19 can be transmitted through food. It is therefore unlikely that such a transmission will take place. Adherence to good food hygiene and safety practices and safe cooking generally minimizes the risk of transmission of any foodborne contamination and illness.
Food establishment operators (restaurants, supermarkets, slaughterhouses, butchers, dairy plants, processing plants, etc.) play an important role in preventing foodborne illnesses. In the current context, they should follow public health recommendations and the following guidelines:
- Ensure that staff under their responsibility are aware of issues related to COVID19;
- Rest assured that the staff respect the rigorous sanitary guidelines recommended by the public health authorities;
- Ensure that food handlers are properly trained in food hygiene practices;
- Ensure effective supervision of food handlers to enhance hygiene practices in the establishment;
- Ensure that the appropriate facilities are available for hand washing;
- Ensure that food handlers are aware that they must report any symptoms of respiratory illness before or during work;
- Ensure that food handlers and other personnel are not ill;
- Ensure that staff with symptoms remain at home until medical advice is received;
- Enhance cleaning and sanitation procedures for items that are exposed to public handling (handles, crates, counters, menus, etc.). Special attention should be paid to fast food or self-service locations where utensils can be handled by several people;
- The use of self-service buffets where people have to wait in line, close to each other and close to food and utensils, is an increased risk and should be avoided;
- Provide for additional or alternative refrigerated or frozen storage capacities to meet the food demand, which is likely subject to change (decreased demand in the hotel, restaurant and institutional sectors, increased demand for food products at retail locations);
- Prepare an action plan in the event of a labour shortage. Do not neglect cleaning and sanitation activities and processing methods that require qualifications. If necessary, prioritize activities that ensure the best means of food availability and abandon other activities.
The Public health expertise and reference centre (INSPQ) has produced a series of documents outlining preventative measures to take against the spread of COVID-19 in different work environments , with some of those pertaining to the food industry.
If they believe that they have symptoms of a respiratory illness, it is important that food handlers inform their employer, avoid preparing food for others, and follow public health recommendations.
It is possible that food handlers who are infected may introduce the virus into the food they are in contact with through contaminated hands or by coughing or sneezing. However, this is unlikely to occur if people who come into contact with food in the food industry adhere to good personal hygiene practices that help reduce the risk of transmission of most foodborne illnesses. Such practices include:
- Frequent hand washing and good general hand hygiene;
- Compliance with the good food hygiene and safety practices (see the Guide des bonnes pratiques d’hygiène et de salubrité alimentaires );
- Compliance with respiratory etiquette ;
- Avoid contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness, such as coughing and sneezing, to the extent possible;
- Food handlers should wash their hands frequently (even if they have no symptoms of illness). Hand washing is required:
- before starting work,
- before handling cooked or ready-to-eat foods,
- after handling or preparing raw food,
- after handling waste,
- after performing cleaning and sanitizing tasks,
- after going to the toilet,
- after sneezing, coughing or blowing your nose,
- after eating, drinking or smoking,
- after handling money.
Common cleaning and sanitizing methods used in the food industry should be continued and their frequency of use should be increased where possible. Other pathogenic microorganisms, generally more resistant than coronavirus, should not be overlooked.
Currently, 70% alcohol and sodium hypochlorite are known to be particularly effective against coronavirus.
Confirm with your suppliers how effective their cleaning and sanitizing procedures and products are against coronavirus. In case of doubt, it is best to keep the procedures already in place and always ensure that they are correctly applied, in accordance with manufacturer instructions.
For non-food surfaces that are particularly exposed to the public (handles, crates, counters, etc.), more frequent cleaning using a disinfection method known to be effective against coronavirus is recommended. Health Canada has published a list of disinfectant products that can be used to inactivate SARS-CoV-2 on hard surfaces.
In the food sector, items in fabric can be washed following manufacturer instructions. If possible, use hot water and dry the items thoroughly.
If at all possible, clean and sanitize items made of fabric more frequently, as is the case for any other surface.
For more information on this subject, consult the COVID-19 : Nettoyage de surfaces document from Public health expertise and reference centre (INSPQ).
Aside from using enhanced good hygiene practices when preparing food, additional precautions may be taken to limit the contamination of surfaces and contact with clients:
- protect packaging (tins, bottles, containers, etc.) or distance packaging from handlers or clients;
- encourage transactions by telephone or Internet and avoid the use of cash;
- delivery people should signal their arrival, then leave packages on doorsteps.
Clients should handle the packages, then wash their hands before eating.
Masks and gloves are not necessary measures to ensure the protection of delivery people, food handlers or clients. They are for patients who have symptoms or who are thought to be infected, and for the healthcare professionals.
On this subject, consult the COVID-19 : Mesures pour les livreurs à domicile (colis, livraison de restaurant, épicerie, etc.) from the Institut National de la Santé Publique du Québec (INSPQ).
It is the responsibility of the owner of the establishment to take such measures as he/she deems necessary to ensure public health in his/her restaurant or grocery store.
However, coughing does not mean that he/she is infected with the virus. We are relying on the civic-mindedness and honesty of citizens to respect public health instructions in case of doubt or contamination.
Retailers are strongly encouraged to pay even greater attention to the application of best practices for cleaning and sanitizing food and non-food contact surfaces.
Documentation on these practices can be found on the Nettoyage et assainissement page.
Consumers must rely on basic personal hygiene practices for their safety, which include thoroughly washing hands and used utensils before cooking and eating, thoroughly washing food before eating, as well as coughing or sneezing into their elbow. Therefore, there is no need for any denunciations.
Lobsters are not a species covered by the Animal Welfare and Safety Act (RLRQ, chapter B-3.1). Furthermore, the Regulation respecting food does not specify how lobsters must be kept alive before being delivered to the consumer, but the operator must make sure the packaging or container used is adequate to keep the lobsters alive until delivered to the consumer. It is recommended that the methods for keeping the lobsters be monitored and adjusted if adverse effects on the animals are noticed.
A dairy producer can process a small amount of milk for family, at home only, to make various products (yogurt, cheese, etc.). He must make sure to heat the milk to a temperature of at least 63 ° C for 30 minutes or 72 ° C for 15 seconds to kill pathogenic microorganisms.
It is illegal to provide or sell raw milk or dairy products made with raw milk without a dairy plant licence.
Only operators with a dairy plant licence, whose operations are managed by a qualified person and whose facilities meet the requirements of the Food Products Act, are permitted to purchase and process raw milk. This applies to cow’s milk as well as goat’s, sheep’s and buffalo milk.
In recent years, multiple people have shown symptoms of foodborne illnesses following the consumption of raw milk cheese made illegally on the farm, sometimes with serious consequences. Consumption of raw (unpasteurized) cream and milk in liquid form or processed into butter, yogurt and ice cream is also dangerous.
The Continued Employment (PACME) program is offered to all companies and includes subsidies to cover the costs of training activities within a company, as well as the costs of human resources management practices. To be eligible, a company must have experienced a loss of business due to the effects of Covid-19.
Among the activities covered by the PACME, all types of training for employees (computer skills, learning French, etc.) or which aim to improve human resources management (e.g. setting up a remote working system) are activities for which direct assistance may represent up to 100% of eligible expenses.
At all times, Public Health Recommendations must be strictly followed when receiving temporary foreign workers in order to support Québec’s agri-food activities in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Refer to the Protocol for the arrival of temporary foreign workers to Québec from the bio-fook industry (PDF 344 Kb) document which was produced in collaboration with several Quebec and Canadian departments and agencies. This is a checklist for employers which groups together the federal government’s guidelines, applicable labour standards and the Public Health Recommendations.
See also the Frequent Asked Questions page on the same subject.
As far as agricultural businesses are concerned, consult the Union des producteurs agricoles (UPA) website dedicated to employment in this sector: Centres d'emploi agricole .
A Québec-based portal named "À table! Emplois " was created to facilitate recruitment for food processing companies. This portal is free and serves to connect employers looking for temporary staff with those looking for work during the COVID-19 pandemic. This recruitment effort serves to ensure a continued supply of products in grocery stores and on tables in Québec homes.
You can create an account on this portal to fill temporary jobs.
The Incentive Program to Retain Essential Workers (IPREW) was implemented by the Government of Québec and can improve the federal government’s Emergency Wage Subsidy. Eligible workers will be able to apply for this assistance online and will receive an additional amount for each recognized week of work. This program provides higher compensation than that offered by the CERB.
Furthermore, a bonus of 100 dollars will be offered by Québec government to seasonal agricultural workers who are paid minimum wage for at least 25 hours of work per week.
The government has announced that various sectors and the companies operating within them may resume their activities progressively, as long as they ensure that measures aiming to protect worker and customer health and safety are put in place. This resumption of activity, which is approved by public health authorities, will take place in stages, depending on the sector of activity and geographical area. To find out which sectors and companies are concerned, visit the Reopening and maintaining economic activities (COVID-19) website.
Many companies may resume their sales activities, including garden centres.
Regarding public health, horticultural producers are encouraged to follow the directives of the National Public Health Institute of Québec (INSPQ - Institut national de santé publique du Québec): COVID-19:Measures for Agricultural Labourers Working in Livestock and Vegetable Production . Other guidelines concerning on-site sales are being prepared.
Ornamental horticulture includes ornamental horticultural production not necessarily intended for human consumption: ornamental greenhouse growing (greenhouse plants), nurseries, sod, Christmas trees, etc.
We encourage you to donate any remaining food to food banks or other food aid organizations to help support Québec families in need.
Companies who make donations can take advantage of a tax credit for charitable donations .
The Food Banks of Québec network has implemented the Food Exchange , which is an electronic platform that connects product suppliers with community programs associated with the preparation or distribution of food.
Food handlers who are sick or showing symptoms of respiratory illness (fever and cough) must inform their employer. They should stay at home until their symptoms subside and follow the public health guidelines available on the Self-care Guide .
Food businesses are encouraged to work on their service continuity plan.
Agricultural producers and food processors may continue their direct sales activities to consumers through the following:
- In a permanent or seasonal farmer's market stall;
- In a shop or stand located on or outside production sites, including self-service stands;
- At a delivery point for the delivery of a basket or an order.
They must, however, ensure compliance with hygiene and public health measures and instructions. Farmer's markets, whether indoors or outdoors, can also continue to operate and must follow the same guidelines.
Farmer's markets and businesses wishing to maintain their direct sales activities at a stand or shop, at a farmer's market or at a delivery point must also comply with the following instructions:
- No on-site food tasting or consumption is permitted. Food may be prepared and sold on-site, but only if intended for take-out;
- No activities can take place (e.g. musician or cooking demonstration);
- Children’s play areas must be closed, if they exist;
- No resting or eating areas can be set up (e.g. chairs, tables, picnic tables);
- Strolling is not allowed.
Guides are available to support businesses and farmer's markets that carry out direct-to-consumer sales activities. These guides propose ways of implementing directives that are adapted to business reality. Consult the Guides to Implementing Recommended Preventative Measures page.
Selling non-food products in farmers’ markets is also permitted throughout Québec.
Agricultural businesses may now offer u-pick activities. They must, however, ensure compliance with hygiene and public health measures and instructions.
A Guide to the implementation of recommended preventive measures (COVID-19) was published to assist businesses offering u-pick activities. It suggests ways of implementing government directives that are adapted to their situation.
Yes. Dairy producers cannot sell the milk that is to be discarded, but they can give it away as long as this milk is not intended to enter the human food chain. With this in mind, it is recommended that milk be dyed with food colouring to ensure the product does not end up in the human food chain. The receiver of the milk in question must have the appropriate equipment for transporting and storing the milk. Additionally, strict hygiene and sanitation measures must be taken when the milk is collected. It is also important to continue to respect withdrawal times associated with the use of certain drugs. A veterinarian should be consulted to ensure proper risk management for the farms in question, in relation to animal diseases that can be transmitted through milk.
Especially in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, government programs exist to support businesses and workers in the commercial fisheries and aquaculture industry. For information, refer to the following files:
- Government support programs for fishing companies (PDF 324 Kb);
- Government support programs for fish and seafood farmers (PDF 341 Kb);
- Government support programs for fish and seafood processing plants (PDF 290 Kb);
- Government support programs for fisher helpers, plant workers and aquaculture workers (PDF 228 Kb).
The Public health expertise and reference centre (INSPQ) indicates preventative measures to take against the spread of COVID-19:
Consult the Interim recommendations for the fishing industry and the Interim recommendations for the food processing industry documents.
If you are a company or a stakeholder in the bio-food sector and you are faced with specific issues jeopardizing your activities, you are invited to contact the regional branch of the ministère de l'Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l'Alimentation.
The following measures are available:
- Lending banks are available to study your file and find a customized solution for your situation. It is important that you contact them before you reach a critical tipping point.
- The Financière agricole du Québec (FADQ) is offering new solutions in connection with its financing and insurance products. For more information, visit the “News room ” section of the FADQ website, and feel free to contact the service centre in your area.
- The Government of Québec announced the creation of the Concerted Temporary Action Program for Businesses (PACTE) and a moratorium on loans taken out through local investment funds. The PACTE can help businesses experiencing difficulties with the supply of raw materials or products (goods or services) and who are facing an inability or a substantial reduction in their ability to deliver products (goods or services) or merchandise. The financial assistance, for a minimum amount of $50,000, is provided in the form of a loan guarantee, but may also take the form of a loan.
- The Government of Québec announced the introduction of the Emergency Assistance Program for Small and Medium-Sized Businesses , which aims to support eligible companies experiencing financial difficulty for a limited period. The assistance granted will take the form of a loan or guarantee of up to $50,000 and will serve to mitigate the same cash flow problems as the PACTE (Concerted Temporary Action Program for Businesses). Loan applications must be sent to regional county municipalities (MRC).
- The Government of Canada has set up the Canada Emergency Business Account intended to help eligible businesses that paid out wages in 2019. Financial institutions have been mandated by the federal government to offer a loan of up to $40,000, including an interest-free period.
- The Government of Canada has increased the lending capacity of Farm Credit Canada (FCC) by more than $5 billion to support the cash flow needs of farmers and food processors. Contact this organization for more information.
- The Government of Canada is offering SMEs, through the Small and Medium-sized Enterprise Loan and Guarantee Program and the BDC’s Co-Lending Program , the possibility of maintaining a sufficient volume of liquid assets. These programs are being managed by Export Development Canada and the Business Development Bank of Canada, respectively. In addition, these two organizations have relaxed the conditions for offering their financial services following the increase in the business credit program.
- Revenu Québec and the Canada Revenue Agency are also offering various deferrals with regard to the dates for tax returns, tax instalment payments, GST-QST returns and on balances of income taxes payable.
- Regarding medium and large businesses, the CDPQ (Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec) is offering financing of more than $5 million to companies that were profitable before the crisis and which have good future business prospects, to help them overcome the crisis.
The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy is supporting companies that, in order to pay their employees, are experiencing losses of more than 30% of their revenues. It can be used for a period of three months as from March 15, 2020 and will be equal to 75% of the wages paid.
This wage subsidy is intended to prevent further job losses and also to encourage employers to rehire workers who were laid off as a result of Covid-19. If the business is ineligible for this program, it can apply for the Temporary Wage Subsidy for Employers , which reduces the burden of payroll deductions.
As for the Incentive Program to Retain Essential Workers (IPREW), it is offered by the Government of Québec and enhances the Emergency Wage Subsidy. Eligible workers will be able to apply for this assistance online and will receive an additional amount for each recognized week of work. This program provides higher compensation than that offered by the CERB.
The Work-Sharing Program was also extended to help companies retain employees over a longer period.
The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) is a combination of the Emergency Care Benefit and the Emergency Support Benefit. Employees, contract workers and self-employed workers who involuntarily lost their jobs are eligible for financial assistance. This benefit cannot be combined with either the Temporary Wage Subsidy or the IPREW.
The federal government’s EI benefits program could offer your employees regular or sickness benefits, depending on their eligibility and the terms of their layoff.
If you wish to apply for a food permit, please visit the Permis section to view the documentation and download the permit application form.
You must complete the form and mail it to the address indicated on the form. It must include the required documents, if applicable, as well as the payment (opening fee and cost of the permit).
Due to the ongoing epidemiological crisis (COVID-19), additional processing times for applications and permit renewals are expected.
We would like to remind you that submitting an application is not sufficient to start an operation. You must receive a permit before taking any action.
Renew a current food permit : Send your completed and signed renewal form along with the required payment.
Given the current situation, additional processing times are expected. In cases where a previously issued permit is not renewed within the recommended time due to extended processing times; this means you can continue to carry out the activities authorized by that permit, under the same conditions.
Despite the current crisis (COVID-19), inspectors are continuing to support operators to ensure food safety and animal health and welfare. They are also informing operators of the public health measures to be taken with regards to COVID-19 when preparing and processing food.
Some services may be affected, such as the issuing of permits. Under these circumstances, no negative consequences will be attributed to clients in this respect.
All measures necessary to protect the health and ensure the security and physical safety of workers are taken, as outlined in Article 51 of the Act Respecting Occupational Health and Safety (AOHS).
Only inspections deemed to be priority or critical will be carried out in person. For other situations, telephone interventions are preferred.
When an inspection must be carried out on-site, employees take all measures necessary to protect themselves as well as to protect the clients with which they are entering into contact. To do this:
- Isolation for a 14-day period is obligatory for all inspectors who return from abroad or who present clinical signs of fever or cough;
- Standard biosecurity directives are maintained to limit the spread of all pathogens. A clean lab coat must be worn during each inspection.Handwashing is mandatory both upon arrival and before leaving the inspection site;
- Staff must keep a distance of two metres between themselves and others. All unnecessary contact between individuals is to be avoided;
- It is no longer required to have the inspection report signed by the operator. The inspector must instead indicate "submitted to Mr. or Mrs. the..." and set down the report at a reasonable distance from the operator;
- Before entering the operation site, the inspector must ask whether anyone present or on-site is showing any symptoms associated with COVID-19 (fever, cough, respiratory difficulties), has tested positive for COVID-19 or has travelled abroad in the past 14 days. If the answer is yes to any of these questions, the inspector must not enter the site and then evaluate alternative options with their manager. It is to be noted that in the absence of symptoms amongst the occupants, social distancing measures must be respected, and the inspector must avoid all unnecessary contact with the animals or the environment;
- Specific measures are planned for continuous inspections in slaughterhouses.
- The worker’s period of employment must begin upon arrival to Canada and include the self-isolation period. This means that the employer must comply with all laws and policies regarding the employer-employee relationship during that period.
- Employers must pay their temporary foreign workers for a minimum of 30 hours per week for the self-isolation period, and at the rate of pay specified on the Labour Market Impact Assessment. This practice is in accordance with the authenticity policy of the Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) Program, which specifies that reasonable employment needs to constitute a full-time workload, i.e. a minimum of 30 hours a week. Proof of wages paid should be kept.
- This also applies to workers participating in the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP). The 14-day period of paid self-isolation will be in addition to the minimum of 240 hours of pay, as specified in the contract.
- Employers can, during the self-isolation period, withhold standard contract deductions (e.g. Employment Insurance, housing, transportation, etc.) as per applicable Program stream requirements. The employer is not allowed to deduct any additional amounts due to the self-isolation period.
Consult the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) page of Government of Canada and the Frequently asked questions: Changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker program regarding COVID-19 page.
In order to establish the legitimacy of a person’s journey, the police may ask the person to provide supporting documents, such as proof of residence, a driver’s licence or a document provided by an employer.
The first condition is that the person must not be exhibiting any symptoms. The police will then assess whether or not the travel is essential.
The police will always be able to use their discretion to make a decision. A letter from the worker’s employer is recommended in order to help with the police assessment.
According to the usual process, the letters are not available upon arrival, but well before departure, usually before the worker purchases their plane ticket, and under current circumstances, before they can be registered on a charter flight.
Therefore, if the industry charters a flight to pick up workers, it is responsible for ensuring that enough workers have received the letter and are able (in good health) to board the flight.
All Public Health Recommendations must be followed during the arrival of temporary foreign workers (TFWs) in the context of the current pandemic. They aim to:
- protect the health of foreign workers and anyone who will be in direct contact with them, including other workers,
- protect the general population in Québec,
- ensure consistency with the public health measures in force in Québec at the time of writing this notice.
The current Public Health Recommendations were made using the best available information and best public health practises in the context of a health emergency. They aim to reduce the risk of disease outbreaks among the same group of workers and reduce any associated risks, including simultaneously losing part of the workforce at a critical time.
The recommendations must be followed when the foreign workers are under Québec jurisdiction and are strongly suggested when they are under another jurisdiction (e.g. federal).
Orders issued by some public health departments and measures being taken by different municipalities can lead to police intervention, particularly in regard to enforcing social distancing.
It is possible to house temporary foreign workers in furnished accommodation either on the farm or in accommodation located off-site. The latter includes accommodation rented off-site, as well as accommodation units that are part of an establishment governed by the Act Respecting Tourist Accommodation Establishments, for example hotels, motels, vacation campsites, short-term chalet rentals, etc.
The accommodation must respect public health recommendations and be compliant with the requirements of the Government of Canada Temporary Foreign Worker Program .
In the context of normal isolation, it is recommended that each person who is not a member of the same family stay in a room of their own so that they can be isolated from other household members.
The recommendation to place temporary foreign workers two to a room is a relaxation to public health distancing measures and will help facilitate cultural acclimatization and reduce the stress of their arrival to Canada.
According to the Institut national de santé publique du Québec (INSPQ), workers are required to have their body temperature taken and recorded daily during the self-isolation period and must also self-monitor their symptoms.
Taking a worker’s temperature on an ad hoc basis (as soon as they arrive) and at random is considered controversial. Body temperature can fluctuate and read normally in the same day (even in symptomatic workers). It is important to follow a rigorous process that measures the worker’s body temperature and closely monitors their symptoms. This measure is deemed necessary.
After the self-isolation period has ended, the temporary foreign workers (TFWs) must follow the same workplace rules as all other agricultural workers.
The Institut national de santé public du Québec(INSPQ) has published information sheets on the rules that need to be followed in order to ensure a safe working environment for all workers:
- Agriculture : COVID-19 : Mesures pour les travailleurs agricoles en productions maraîchères et animales ,
- Marine Products Processing Industry : COVID-19 : Recommandations intérimaires à l’attention des travailleurs dans l’industrie de la transformation des produits marins ,
- Food Processing Industry : COVID-19: Interim Recommendations for the Food Processing Industry .
The Institut national de santé publique (INSPQ) recommendations, endorsed by the ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux (MSSS), state that the federal government’s minimum housing requirements do not allow for the minimum two-metre distance between people (e.g. minimum 45 cm distance between beds). Ideally, the employer should provide housing conditions that meet the minimum recommended distance and accommodate a minimum number of workers per room.
These suggestions are aimed at protecting the health of all workers and reducing the risk of viral transmission, seeing as this risk increases with population density. Foreign workers that roomed together during the self-isolation period should also room together throughout the entire work period.
The same disinfecting recommendations (for the worker’s accommodations) that were followed during the self-isolation period should be maintained in the worker’s accommodations throughout the entire working period.
With regards to COVID-19, everyone in Quebec will be covered for both tests and hospitalization. Having a health insurance card or private insurance is the preferred option.
For other, non-COVID healthcare, foreign agricultural workers residing in Quebec for work must be registered with the Régie de l’assurance maladie du Québec (RAMQ) health insurance plan. If workers cannot be covered by the RAMQ, private insurance is required.
Further information can be found about the services during the pandemic on the RAMQ Questions and answers about our services during the pandemic page.
The Public Health Recommendations indicate that when transporting workers between the airport and their place of isolation:
- each employer must take immediate responsibility for their workers at the airport;
- workers must be transported in small groups to their accommodations;
- health and minimum distance recommendations (two metres minimum between people) must be followed during transportation;
- the employer must contact the COVID-19 hotline if they are unsure about the health condition of any of their workers during pick-up and transportation. The numbers to dial are: 514 644-4545 for the Montréal area, 418 644-4545 for the Québec area and 1 877 644-4545 outside of Québec.
Find more information on Public Health Recommendations That Must Be Applied to the Reception of Temporary Foreign Workers (TFWs) to Support Agri-Food Activities in Québec in the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic page of the Institut National de Santé publique du Québec (INSPQ).
In addition, on April, 22 2020, doctors from the Réseau de santé publique en santé au travail and the INSPQ confirmed the industry’s recommendations regarding the directions to follow when employers or staffing agencies are transporting workers:
- Clean and disinfect buses or shuttles before boarding each group of workers;
- Avoid boarding any at-risk workers, those who are either aged 70 or older, suffering from immunodeficiency or a chronic illness (such as cardiovascular, respiratory, or kidney disease; diabetics, etc.);
- Refuse boarding to workers showing symptoms. These workers should normally have been identified when disembarking from the plane and be taken into care in a specific isolation unit;
- Ensure compliance with social distancing measures of 2 metres between people, by reducing the number of workers per bus by at least 50%. If despite this measure, the 2-metre distance is not able to be respected, ensure that physical barriers are set up that do not breach usual safety standards. Otherwise, as a last resort, provide workers with masks during transportation;
- Make hand washing using hydroalcoholic gel mandatory when both boarding and exiting the bus.
Personal food items are not permitted in the bus during transportation to the place of isolation. The employer must provide snacks and water bottles for each person, taking into consideration the duration of the journey.
When transporting workers in vehicles from one sector of the farm to another (e.g. from the main building to a secondary building or field), you must:
- clean the vehicle both before and after use;
- only fill vehicles to 50 % of their loading capacity;
- keep space between each worker to avoid all physical contact.
Consult the Interim Recommendations for Agricultural Workers in Crop and Livestock Production of Institut national en santé publique du Québec (INSPQ).
This information will be used to facilitate intervention in the event of an outbreak and will only be used if any cases of COVID-19 occur in temporary foreign workers (TFWs).
A mechanism must be provided to keep the information confidential before it is transferred to public health authorities. Employers are encouraged to contact the public health authorities in their area for more information : Public health contacts .
Observation visits will be carried out by inspectors/investigators from the Commission des normes, de l'équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail (CNESST). If necessary, an observation report will be sent to the regional public health department concerned.
For more information, consult the Protocol for the arrival of temporary foreign workers to Québec from the bio-fook industry (PDF 344 Kb) document. A Spanish version (PDF 331 Kb) is also available.
Starting on May 11, 2020, work sites can resume their activities in all sectors of the construction industry, that is, residential, civil engineering and road works, institutional and commercial, and industrial. Restarting the construction industry will also reopen its supply chains, made up of numerous small and medium-sized businesses.
On April 13, the Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail (CNESST) published the COVID-19 Guide – Construction Sites and Daily Checklist – COVID-19 (PDF, 184 KB) on its website. The guide presents the measures to be implemented on construction sites to reduce exposure to COVID-19. The measures comply with public health guidelines.
The simple and free job placement service Jetravaille! makes it easier to match the labour needs of businesses with people who are looking for work. However, priority will be given to processing job offers from businesses in priority services and activities and from those that are authorized to resume their activities within the context of the pandemic.
It provides job seekers with a personalized job search assistance tool that enables them to see in the “Positions available” section of their applicant profile, job offers that correspond to their profile, classified in order of relevance.
A geolocation service will show where the job offers are located and determine the distance between the applicant’s place of residence and the workplace associated with the job offer.
Yes. The temporary web platform was a page created in house by Gouvernement du Québec teams, whereas Jetravaille! is a much more elaborate job placement service that had to be designed by external resources. We couldn’t simply transfer the data from one platform to the other. However, we can help businesses that need assistance to create an account.
Last update: June 4, 2020