September 30th, 2020 - 5:20pm

City of Windsor Demonstrating Leadership Should Not Cost Local Taxpayers

(OTTAWA) – Today, Brian Masse M.P. (Windsor West), NDP Innovation, Science, Economic Development Critic demanded the federal government continue to fund the Migrant Farm Workers Isolation Centre in Windsor. Today is the last day the Red Cross, with federal funds, is operating the centre. The City of Windsor announced it was willing to take over the operations but needs federal and provincial support.

“As we are now in the second wave of the COVID pandemic, the need for services and facilities that were essential in first wave continues. Migrant farm workers are integral and essential for Canada’s food supply. The isolation centre to help combat COVID 19 is a fundamental public health measure and will be part of the strategy to address it. The Red Cross has done a great job and now the City willing to take over its operation is demonstrating local leadership. The federal government must continue to fund this centre since it is their responsibility,” Masse stated.

The Federal government has been paying the Canadian Red Cross to manage the Migrant Farm Workers Isolation Centre in Windsor-Essex, with the provincial government providing support and coordination. The funding arrangement with the Red Cross expires September 30. The City of Windsor announced it was willing to take over the operations of the centre but needed federal funding. The federal government has not announced any new funding to date to support the city.

The Medical Officer of Health for Windsor-Essex, Dr. Wajid Ahmed, has called for the centre to remain operational in preparation or planning for a potential second save of COVID-19.

Approximately 20,000 migrant workers come to Ontario each year to work on farms and in greenhouses — many of them from Mexico, Guatemala and the Caribbean. This year, they were required to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on migrant farm workers with outbreaks happening on several farms in the Essex region. Two workers passed away. 31-year-old Bonifacio Eugenio Romero died on May 30. 24-year-old Rogelio Muñoz Santos died on June 5. Both were Mexican migrant farm workers who died of COVID-19 in Windsor, Ontario.

“This public health crisis has exposed how dire the situation is. We don’t need to have any more tragedies due to neglect and inaction as we did earlier this year. The federal government needs to protect migrant farm workers who are essential to all Canadians. The city has stepped in to fill the void. The funds are available to do this now. The Liberals need act instead of talk,” Masse stated.