Organic Industry Updates - COVID-19

Organic Industry Updates - COVID-19

March 24, 2020

Industry Updates – COVID-19


Industry update 2 April 2020 - Support through COVID-19

  1. Small Business BC  - COVID-19 Small Business Supports. This comprehensive resource provides a listing of ALL supports that have been announced to date (including suspension of payments for student loans).
  2. Benefit Information – This list was compiled by a professor at the University of Carleton and will help individuals navigate when and how they should apply for EI versus the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.
  3. Updates from WALI – This link provides an update on the Government of Canada’s requirements for receiving temporary foreign workers. Please note that the Ministry continues to work on the issue of labour for both TFWs and domestic labour sources. For more information on keeping farm workers safe during COVID-19, Ag Safe BC has centralized resources at this time.
  4. Go2HR Job Board - has opened its tourism and hospitality focused job board to include the agriculture and food processing sector. This provides a unique opportunity to connect displaced tourism and hospitality employees (due to COVID-19 pandemic) with employment opportunities in agriculture. Producers and processors can post their job vacancies on the job board for free here:
  5. Canadian Agriculture Human Resource Council – has made their AgriHR Toolkit available to all producers/processors during COVID-19. These tools can help producers address their labour planning and continuity needs.


Industry update 1 April 2020

Updates for COTA Members Re: COVID-19 from Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada/Canadian Food Inspection Agency  

The Canada Organic Trade Association (COTA), as the national voice of Canada’s organic sector, is continuing to participate in regular conference calls being hosted by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). Our objective is to keep information flowing between industry and government – to provide critical information to assist you all in guiding your businesses during COVID-19 measures being in place. 

Updates from the Wednesday, April 1st call

Updates to Temporary Foreign Workers’ access.  The government has provided an update to the Agri-Food Immigration Pilot. The Pilot is now scheduled to open on May 15, 2020, and will accept applications until May 14, 2023. Also, for Temporary Foreign Workers already in Canada, the government has taken measures to facilitate extensions of work permits. 

CFIA update. The CFIA released guidance for meat slaughter and processing establishments on prevention and response to suspect and confirmed COVID-19 plant employees. While aimed at meat processing facilities, this guidance can also be applied more broadly to other third party establishments and will provide a sense of CFIA’s thinking regarding its broader inspection responsibilities in these times. CFIA has committed to further industry-specific guidance to be published soon. 

Survey on Essential Supplies Shortages. The government is interested in understanding the pressures on supplies of Sanitization Products and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Recognizing that the spread of COVID-19 has created shortages in our essential food production establishments, the government is seeking input from owners and operators to better understand the scope of potential shortages in Canada. Please take the time to fill out this important survey

75% Federal Wage Subsidy- Applicability to Agriculture and Agri-Food. Today the Finance Minister made a further announcement with more details to the wage subsidy program. The program is available broadly to any employer who is able to demonstrate a revenue reduction of 30% or more. It is to be calculated monthly on a year-over-year basis and applied for each month as required.  A website is available to learn more about the federal government’s response to the crisis. Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan . Questions still persist regarding how it will be applied to the agriculture sector where revenues are more seasonal while labour costs are often up-front and less seasonal. There will be more details to come when these questions are answered. 

Supply Chain Concerns- Mexico Suspends Non-Essential Services. Government officials announced that they have learned from their Mexican counterparts of a reduction of government services in Mexico, ie, a suspension of all non-essential government services. This includes the Mexican public health agency which has confirmed that it will only be issuing import permits for essential goods related to fighting the COVID-19 virus. AAFC officials continue to seek further clarification of potential impacts of our exports to Mexico. Here is the text of the note from AAFC officials, COEFPRIS Halts Import Permits

If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact COTA’s Manager of Policy and Research, Brian Lemon at or call 613-482-1717 ext. 206. 


Industry update 27 March 2020 - Province takes unprecedented steps to support COVID-19 response


Here are several surveys, and various links for your reference on COVID-19 updates from 24 March 2020



Minister Lana Popham has an active Facebook page with updates on the Ministry’s activities.

Latest post:


  • Impact of COVID-19 on organic operationsSurvey
    • Here is a survey from Canada Organic Trade Association shared by the Organic Federation of Canada (OFC) and SaskOrganics. “The COVID-19 affects Canadian operations and we need to know how organic operations are impacted by the COVID-19”.
    • The information collected will be shared with AAFC and CFIA.
  • Young AgrariansSurvey
    • Survey distributed by Young Agrarians; the information collected with be shared with the BC Ministry of Agriculture


CFIA is taking action to preserve the integrity of Canada's food safety system, while safeguarding its animal and plant resource base.


COVID-19 emergency planning resources from AgSafe (updated regularly).


BC Agriculture Council (BCAC)

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada travel exemption for seasonal workers