COVID-19: The return of Quebec to the fields

COVID-19: Le retour des Québécois aux champs

The assistance granted by Québec to encourage Quebecers to go to work in the fields to give a boost to the farmers is broadly welcomed, although some doubts in relation to its actual effectiveness.

At the Ferme Onésime Pouliot, one recognizes the effort of the government, which injects$ 45 Million to support the recruitment of agricultural workers.

“It may be an incentive for workers who want to move. It all depends on the number of hours they are willing to put in,” says Guy Pouliot, co-owner.

Even with the $ 100 bonus per week, the producers are not certain of having the québec workforce they need given the Benefit of the canadian emergency services already available to workers without a job, an income of $ 2000 per month up to a maximum of 16 weeks.

Incentive

A worker who is interested in going to the fields 40 hours per week at the hourly rate of 13,10 $ (minimum wage as of may 1st) will be paid 524 $ gross which will be added the premium of $ 100 per week, or $ 624 per report for the provision of the federal $ 500.

“I am convinced that it will attract workers to the field. How much? I don’t know,” adds the producer of strawberries.

“The Mexicans who work 40 hours per week complain that this is not enough. They want to work 60 hours. I think it’s going to take two in Quebec to replace a foreign worker. If it is missing 10 000 foreign workers this summer in Quebec, it’s going to take 20 000 Quebecers,” says Mr. Pouliot.

In the balance

“It’s going to look in the balance when I’m going to determine what area I plant. It’s going to be a part of my reflection as the 1500 $ that you are going to receive by a temporary foreign worker to bear the expenses while they are in quarantine.” For the producer of strawberries and raspberries, Louis Gosselin, the minister of Agriculture, André Lamontagne, had no choice but to announce a incentive. “He was stuck to do anything about it because of the 2000 $ of the federal,” he said.

Anyway, welcome in the fields of québec workers also implies new challenges in terms of logistics for producers to the extent that it is necessary to continue to be vigilant against the coronavirus, that will run workers, both foreign and local.

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