Employment and labour standards

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.

More information is available on the CNESST website This hyperlink will open in a new window..

In the case of a refusal to work, the CNESST inspector will quickly determine whether or not the workplace in question poses a threat.

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 This hyperlink will open in a new window. (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.

Bio-food sector enterprises and workers

Since measures vary according to the alert level specific to each region or city, bio-food businesses selling directly to customers (farm stands, shops, etc.) and farmers’ markets must refer to the Alert Levels Map by region This hyperlink will open in a new window. to see what measures food merchants must follow. They must make sure to adhere to the measures specific to their zone and the conditions applicable to their activities. They must also ensure their compliance with restrictions on the number of customers admitted to commercial enterprises This hyperlink will open in a new window.

Bio-food businesses selling directly to customers (farm stand, stores, etc.) and farmers’ markets must also refer to the Guide des mesures sanitaires pour le commerce de détail – CNESST This hyperlink will open in a new window. and the COVID-19: Shops and stores - Preventive measures in the workplace – INSPQ This hyperlink will open in a new window. so they are familiar with the health measures to be implemented.

Bio-food businesses that offer deliveries must also refer to the COVID-19: Delivery Workers - Preventive measures in the Workplace – INSPQ This hyperlink will open in a new window..

Bio-food businesses and farmers’ markets offering food service must refer to the Alert Levels Map by region This hyperlink will open in a new window. to see the specific measures for their zone and the conditions that apply to providing food service.

Additionally, bio-food businesses providing food service must refer to the Guide des mesures sanitaires pour la restauration et les bars – CNESST This hyperlink will open in a new window., the Fiche de prévention pour la restauration (service au comptoir, à l’auto et livraison) – INSPQ This hyperlink will open in a new window. and the Directives de santé publique concernant la réouverture des salles à manger et des autres lieux de consommation du secteur de la restauration - MSSS This hyperlink will open in a new window. to familiarize themselves with the preventive measures to be implemented.

You should avoid all forms of entertainment to limit the festive nature of an activity.

Sampling or tasting is allowed in stores. Masks or face covers can be removed briefly to consume food but must be replaced immediately. Other health recommendations such as social distancing between individuals from different residences must continue to be observed. Sampling or tasting must also occur in a spirit of respect for the following rules:

Since measures vary depending on the alert level of a given region or city, agri-tourism events must refer to the Alert Levels Map by region This hyperlink will open in a new window. to see the specific measures for their zone and the conditions that apply to hosting indoor and outdoor public gatherings.

Read the Guidance for Industry: What to do when someone tests positive for COVID-19 in a food establishment (PDF 166 Kb) document.

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 This hyperlink will open in a new window., including the following documents:

Measures required by public health authorities take precedence over the information in these guides. Please review the additional health measures to be implemented according to the alert level in your area This hyperlink will open in a new window.. Contact your regional public health director This hyperlink will open in a new window. if you have any questions.

Some documents are also available in Spanish on the Institut national de santé publique du Québec (INSPQ) website: Publicaciones This hyperlink will open in a new window.

You can also consult the Risk-informed decision-making guidelines for workplaces and businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic This hyperlink will open in a new window. 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) This hyperlink will open in a new window. website. 

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 This hyperlink will open in a new window., 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 This hyperlink will open in a new window.);
  • Compliance with respiratory etiquette This hyperlink will open in a new window.;
  • 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.

Gloves are not required and wearing them provides a false sense of security.

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 This hyperlink will open in a new window. 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.) This hyperlink will open in a new window. 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 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 This hyperlink will open in a new window. 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.

At all times, Public Health Recommendations This hyperlink will open in a new window. 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.

See the 2021 Reminders About Temporary Foreign Workers in the Bio-food Industry Arriving in Québec in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic (PDF 353 Kb) document for additional details. Spanish version available (PDF 374 Kb).

You can also read the answers to the most frequently asked questions on the Temporary Foreign Bio-food Industry Workers page.

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 This hyperlink will open in a new window..

Adjusting my company’s activities

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 This hyperlink will open in a new window..

The Food Banks of Québec network has implemented the Food Exchange This hyperlink will open in a new window., 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 This hyperlink will open in a new window..

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.

However, they must ensure that hygiene and public health measures and instructions are followed, according to the requirements of the alert level in effect in the region, including, but not limited to, the continuous wearing of surgical masks in workplaces. Farmer's markets, whether indoors or outdoors, can also continue to operate and must follow the same guidelines.

Farmers’ markets, farm stands and delivery points must follow the same health measures as food merchants.

Protect the health of workers by ensuring the application of necessary measures. The INSPQ (Public health expertise and reference centre) has produced a series of documents outlining preventative measures to take in different work environments. They are available at COVID-19: Occupational health This hyperlink will open in a new window.. The document Interim recommendations for Agricultural Workers in Crop and Livestock Production This hyperlink will open in a new window., which supplements the general preventive measures, can be found there.

Strengthen your biosafety measures This hyperlink will open in a new window. by more strictly limiting the entry of visitors to the farm.

If you have symptoms of COVID-19 or are following self-isolation instructions from public health authorities, avoid contact with animals. Make sure you have an emergency plan in place to ensure that your animals receive the necessary care in the event that you are unable to care for them.

Mink farms are dealing with exceptional risks. Outside of Québec, mink farms have been infected by SARS-CoV-2 (the COVID-19 virus). They are subject to very strict control measures. Infected workers introduced the virus at several of these farms. A strain of SARS-CoV-2 characterized by mutations that affect the proteins targeted by potential vaccines has been found at some of these farms. The hypothesis that this strain could propagate and threaten the effectiveness of a future vaccine led to culling at several farms.

Commercial fishing and aquaculture

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 fisher helpers, plant workers and aquaculture workers (PDF 228 Kb)

Initiative to reduce the spring stock at fish farms that supply the fish planting market for sport fishing This hyperlink will open in a new window.

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 This hyperlink will open in a new window. and the Interim recommendations for the food processing industry This hyperlink will open in a new window. documents.

Financial assistance

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 This hyperlink will open in a new window. 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 This hyperlink will open in a new window.” 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 This hyperlink will open in a new window. (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 This hyperlink will open in a new window., 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 This hyperlink will open in a new window. 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 This hyperlink will open in a new window. (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 This hyperlink will open in a new window. and the BDC’s Co-Lending Program This hyperlink will open in a new window., 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 This hyperlink will open in a new window. and the Canada Revenue Agency This hyperlink will open in a new window. 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) This hyperlink will open in a new window. 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.

Financial assistance to businesses, granted under the programs administered by the ministère de l'Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l'Alimentation, is maintained as are essential services.

Permits and inspections

If you wish to apply for a food permit, please visit the Permis This hyperlink will open in a new window. 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 This hyperlink will open in a new window. : 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.

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:

  • 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.​

Temporary foreign workers from the bio-food industry

  1. The worker’s period of employment begins when they arrive in Canada and includes the required quarantine period on arrival. This means that the employer must comply with all laws and policies regarding the employer-employee relationship during that period.
  2. Employers are required to pay their temporary foreign workers for the duration of the mandatory quarantine period. If the period of quarantine or isolation on arrival is extended for any reason, workers must continue to be paid accordingly by the employer. The compensation must correspond to 5 hours of work per day, up to a maximum of 30 hours per week, at the rate of pay specified in the Labour Market Impact Assessment. This practice is consistent with the Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) Program’s authenticity policy. It 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.
  3. This requirement will also apply to workers participating in the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program (SAWP). The mandatory quarantine period on arrival will be paid in addition to the minimum 240 hours of pay provided for in the contract.
  4. Employers can withhold standard contract deductions (e.g. Employment Insurance, housing, transportation, etc.) as per Program requirements. The employer is not allowed to deduct any additional amounts due to the quarantine period.

Visit the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) This hyperlink will open in a new window. page and the Government of Canada’s Quarantine, testing and other COVID-19 measures for temporary foreign workers and employers This hyperlink will open in a new window. page.

A financial assistance program has been created to help agricultural producers, fishers and all employers in the food processing sector. This allows them to put in place the necessary measures to ensure compliance with the mandatory quarantine period imposed on all workers arriving from abroad. The federal government’s Mandatory Isolation Support for Temporary Foreign Workers Program may provide a contribution for each temporary foreign worker.

In order to establish the legitimacy of a person’s travel, 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. Therefore, a letter from the worker’s employer is recommended in order to help with the police assessment.

Visit the transportation, travel, gatherings and audiences during the COVID-19 pandemic This hyperlink will open in a new window. page.

According to the usual process, the letters are not “available on arrival,” but rather 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 their letter and are good enough health to board the flight.

Employers are entirely responsible for organizing transportation for their workers. No financial assistance will be provided.

COVID-19 poses a risk to the health of workers and the employer is obligated to protect the workers’ health, as well as to ensure their safety and physical integrity.

On October 23, 2020, a working group of the Réseau de santé publique en santé au travail, coordinated by the Québec Public health expertise and reference centre, adopted new health recommendations for the bio-food sector (publications 2962 and 3072). The majority of these recommendations apply to the living environment of hired temporary foreign workers and their accommodation.

The current public health recommendations were made using the best available information and best practises in the context of a health emergency. They aim to reduce the risk of disease outbreaks among the same group of workers and to reduce any associated risks, including simultaneously losing part of the workforce at a critical time.

A consistent and standardized approach has been adopted to support employers for the 2021 production season. The accommodation requirements introduced for the 2020 season continue to apply and the Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail and the Réseau de santé publique en santé au travail will conduct preventive inspections using these criteria. However, if possible, the employer is expected to be able to demonstrate the efforts they have made to follow the new recommendations and to agree to participate in a process of continuous and optimal improvement of their facilities.

Orders issued by some public health departments and measures being taken by municipalities can lead to police intervention, particularly in regard to enforcing social distancing.

Foreign temporary workers can be housed in furnished accommodation either on the farm or in accommodation located off-site. The latter includes housing rented off-site, as well as housing 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.

Accommodation must meet public health requirements and comply with the Government of Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program This hyperlink will open in a new window. obligations.

No. However, during the mandatory quarantine on arrival in the country, Québec public health authorities recommend that foreign workers be housed in single rooms with meals served in the room. This is the best practice to avoid contagion between quarantined people.

Despite this recommendation, it was agreed that the same requirements as in 2020 would be applied. Employers are also required to comply at a minimum with the Canadian government’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations.

There is no limit of workers per room imposed by this regulation. However, at all times, lodged workers must be able to maintain a physical distance of two metres from other persons. Thus, bunk beds or screens between beds are not allowed. If the housing does not allow workers to maintain the two-metre physical separation, the employer must find alternative accommodation that will allow this, such as renting hotel rooms.

It is important to note that under this regulation, for the entire duration of the stay – including the mandatory 14-day quarantine period on arrival – the employer must provide facilities to allow each person who is ill or showing COVID-19 symptoms to isolate him/herself in a single room with a private bathroom (strict individual isolation).

Yes, but it is not recommended. Wherever possible, it would be desirable to limit occupancy to one or two workers per room according to public health recommendations.

In this regard, the use of dormitories should be a measure of last resort until the employer is able to provide single or double occupancy rooms. The layout should make it possible to:

  • reduce the number of temporary foreign workers so that there is a minimum distance of two metres between each worker at all times, with an additional distance of one metre on each side of the bed for movement (for a total of nine square metres of personal space for each worker).
  • position the beds foot to foot to keep the faces as far apart as possible.
  • constantly ventilate the room with fresh outside air (natural or mechanical ventilation) and have windows that correspond with least 5% of the floor area. If ventilation is mechanical, the system must always be on, without using the air recirculation mode, and if the ventilation is natural, the windows must be open for a minimum of 15 minutes, three times a day (morning, noon and evening).

The employer is expected to be able to demonstrate the efforts they have made to follow the new public health recommendations and to agree to participate in a process of continuous and optimal improvement of their facilities.

Taking temperatures as the sole tool for screening workers at the facility’s entrance is not recommended. Occupational health physicians prefer to use a symptom-based screening questionnaire without taking a temperature.

French: Questionnaire des symptômes COVID-19 – INSPQ This hyperlink will open in a new window.

English: COVID-19 Symptom-based Screening Questionnaire – INSPQ This hyperlink will open in a new window.

Spanish: Cuestionario de síntomas COVID-19 – INSPQ This hyperlink will open in a new window.

Yes. After the quarantine period, temporary foreign workers must follow the same rules that apply to all workers in the workplace.

The Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail and the Québec Public health expertise and reference centre have published information leaflets on the rules to follow to ensure a safe work environment for all workers:

In addition, outside of work, foreign workers must also follow the health regulations that apply to the population of the region where they reside during their stay in Québec. It is recommended that the employer explain and remind employees of these other instructions.

Yes, but it is not recommended. Wherever possible, the employer should limit occupancy to one or two workers per room according to public health recommendations.

A sick worker may infect all of his or her roommates or coworkers and force them into isolation.

In fact, public health recommends immediate removal, as a preventive measure, of all persons who have been in close contact with a symptomatic worker with suspected COVID-19 in the last 48 hours before the onset of symptoms until the symptoms are recognized, as well as isolation of the symptomatic worker. This measure is intended to prevent a worker considered a close contact from remaining at work due to the delays inherent in confirming the symptomatic case. However, this preventive removal measure could have an impact on production activity continuity, which must be considered in the decision to apply this measure. In addition, in the presence of a confirmed COVID-19 case, individuals identified by public health should isolate themselves.

Each close contact who is removed from work and becomes a confirmed case of COVID-19 must comply with public health recommendations before returning to work.

All workers living under the same roof as the symptomatic worker are considered close contacts.

Reference: COVID-19 Symptom-based Screening Questionnaire – INSPQ This hyperlink will open in a new window.

With regards to COVID-19, everyone in Québec 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 Québec for work must be registered with the RAMQ health insurance plan. If workers cannot be covered by the RAMQ, they must take out private insurance.

You can find more information on the RAMQ’s Questions and answers about our services during the pandemic This hyperlink will open in a new window. page.

The employer is responsible for transporting workers to their place of quarantine. Links to information about the measures to be taken are located in the reminders (PDF 353 Kb) document.

For transportation conditions between the airport and worker quarantine locations, public health recommendations state that:

  • each employer must take immediate responsibility for their workers at the airport;
  • workers must be transported in small groups to their accommodation;
  • the health and minimum distance recommendations (minimum two-metre between people) must be followed during transportation;
  • the employer must contact the COVID-19 line if they are unsure about the health condition of any of their workers during pick-up and transportation.

For more details, see the COVID-19: Temporary foreign workers in Preventive Isolation (Quarantine) This hyperlink will open in a new window. from the Québec Public health expertise and reference centre (INSPQ).

On April 22, 2020, doctors from the Réseau de santé publique en santé au travail and 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 bringing 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; diabetes, etc.) into the country;
  • 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 quarantine unit;
  • Ensure compliance with social distancing measures of two metres between people, by reducing the number of workers per bus by at least 50 %. If despite this measure, the two-metre distance cannot 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 use of hand sanitizer mandatory when boarding and exiting the bus.

Personal food items are not permitted in the bus during transportation to the place of quarantine. The employer must provide snacks and water bottles for each person, taking into consideration the duration of the journey.

For vehicles transporting workers from one area of the farm to another (e.g. from the main building to a secondary building or to the field), you must:

  • clean the vehicle both before and after use;
  • only fill vehicles to 50 % of their loading capacity;
  • keep space between workers to avoid all physical contact.

See the COVID-19: Mode d’organisation du travail « Fly in Fly out » (FIFO) ou « Drive in Drive out » (DIDO) This hyperlink will open in a new window. from the Québec Public health expertise and reference centre.

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.

A mechanism must be provided to protect the confidentiality of this information before it is transferred to public health authorities. Employers are encouraged to contact their local public health authorities for more information using the list of public health contacts (Find a Resource) This hyperlink will open in a new window..

In addition to the obligations of foreign worker hiring programs, preventive visits in the context of COVID-19 will also be carried out by the Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail (CNESST).

The Réseau de santé publique en santé au travail teams are mobilized to support and assist workplaces. They work closely with CNESST inspectors in all sectors of economic activity to prevent or help manage outbreaks. 

For more information, see the 2021 Reminders About Temporary Foreign Workers in the Biofood Industry Arriving in Québec in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic (PDF 353 Kb) document.

A Spanish version (PDF 374 Kb) is available.

Reopening of the entire construction industry

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.

No. Only the usual authorizations are required.

Yes. The construction industry can resume activities while taking the necessary steps to limit the spread of the virus and keep workers safe. The construction industry is important to our economy and it is being reopened following the guidelines of public health authorities.

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 This hyperlink will open in a new window. and Daily Checklist – COVID-19 (PDF, 184 KB) This hyperlink will open in a new window. 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.