COVID-19 Resources

How are you coping with the impacts of COVID-19?

We’ve put together a short form for you to get in touch with us to share your experiences. We appreciate all the hard work and sacrifices that our local food sector is making to ensure that Ontarians have access to local organic food during these uncertain times.

Resources

Below you will find links to information and resources to help you navigate the response to the COVID-19 outbreak. We will be continually updating this page as things develop and new information becomes available. Thank you to the NFU-O, OFA, COTA, EFAO, COG and the many other organizations who are working tirelessly to serve this sector. And thanks to you: our producers, processors, and service providers who are working hard to keep this province nourished. We see you, we thank you. 

If you have any other resources that you think would be helpful to share with others, please let us know and we can add them to this list.

Last updated: April 8, 2020

Table of Contents

Latest Updates
Industry Stakeholder Calls with AAFC
Labour & Temporary Foreign Workers
Access to Farmers’ Markets and Local Food
Implementation of the Canada Organic Regime
Farm Support & Relief
International Trade
Government Industry Updates
Economic Supports
Pandemic Preparedness Resources
Mental Health Resources
Staying Connected
Certification Bodies
Updates from the Canada Organic Trade Association (COTA)
Ways to Help

Latest Updates

Industry Stakeholder Calls with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC)

AAFC has initiated calls twice a week for any stakeholder interested in taking part. These calls are Tuesdays and Thursdays at 12:00 (noon) Eastern time.

English Line: 1-877-413-4814 or locally 613-960-7519 (passcode: 2471610 #)
En français: 1-877-413-4815 ou en region 613-960-7526 (passcode: 3385231 #)

If you are interested in taking part in these calls, feel free to dial in. There is simultaneous translation on the call, and thus there are separate lines depending on if you wish to listen to the conversations in English or French. Typically the format has been to have a number of presentations by officials on specific topics and then an opportunity to ask questions from the phone.

Labour and Temporary Foreign Workers

Access to Farmers’ Markets and Local Food

Implementation of the Canada Organic Regime

Farm Support and Relief

Trade and Supply Chain

  • 2020-03-30 Supply Chain Concerns. (Update from COTA) The government continues to work to ensure the supply chains remain open and that the essential food system in Canada remains functioning. There were concerns voiced regarding application of trucking/transportation rules, including hours or work, spring road restrictions, and treatment of drivers. Concerns were also highlighted regarding the “system-wide” nature of how impacts get felt by the food sector, with the closure of the Olymel hog processing plant in Yamachiche, QC. Nine employees were found positive for COVID-19, which caused the company to close its plant. The hog industry in Quebec is now scrambling to find processing capacity for all the displaced animals intended to go this plant.
  • 2020-03-26 Border Crossing Challenges. (Update from COTA) AAFC is aware of challenges and delays at the Canada/US border, and is aware of the impact these delays might have on the transport of goods – especially those goods that are perishable or where supply chains rely on expedited deliveries. Watch for an announcement in the coming days of a dedicated 24-hour telephone service for any importers or exporters who are having troubles with shipments getting across the Canada/US border, or where drivers are having difficulties crossing the border with their loads.

Ongoing Updates

Economic Supports

Last week, Prime Minister Trudeau announced a stimulus package to help Canadians facing hardship as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. These measures are delivered as part of the Government of Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan.

Support for Individuals

Support for Businesses

Business Loans

  • Canada Emergency Business Account: This provides interest-free loans of up to $40,000 to small businesses and not-for-profits through their financial institutions. Up to 25% of the loan will be forgiven if repaid by December 31, 2022. More details to follow.
  • Support for entrepreneurs impacted by the coronavirus COVID-19 – (BDC) – As announced by the Minister of Finance, BDC puts in place additional measures to provide relief for Canadian entrepreneurs.
  • Small Business Loan – $10k up to $100K – (BDC) – Online application process; repayable over 5 years; can be used to buy equipment, purchase extra software or hardware, apply for a patent, trademark or other intellectual property protection.
  • Working Capital Loan – (BDC) – Get a loan to complement your line of credit in order to boost inventory and take advantage of supplier discounts.
  • Purchase Order Financing – (EDC-BDC) – Loans to fulfill large international orders. Get financing to cover up to 90% of the purchase order amount of contracts with international buyers.

Pandemic Preparedness & Response Resources

Mental Health Resources

If you are in distress, and need immediate help, consider calling Ontario’s Mental Health Line, ConnexOntario at 1-866-531-2600. Call 24/7 for information and referral. You can also use a chat online, email, and access additional resources from https://www.connexontario.ca.

The Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario Division has also compiled this useful mental health resource list. 

Staying Connected 

Even though we have to maintain physical distance, there are other ways to stay connected:

Certification Bodies

All certification bodies have issued statements about how they are handling the COVID-19 pandemic, and measures they are taking to ensure continuity of service and your certification status:

Updates from the Canada Organic Trade Association

The Canada Organic Trade Association has been in regular communication with AAFC and CFIA about ongoing changes and responses. 

Other Resources

  • Agscape Virtual Camp Experience: The Virtual Camp Experience includes interactive activities that explore food and farming topics such as Local Food, Technology and Innovation, and Indigenous Agriculture. 
  • Learn at Home: Online resources for elementary and secondary students to practice math and literacy skills and learn at home.
  • Legal Help: Community Legal Education Ontario – CLEO – has just put out a guide to legal issues that arise out of the COVID-19 crisis.

Ways to Help

  • Support local organic businesses: If you are an individual looking to buy from local organic businesses, check out our online Ontario Organic Directory. Support them through purchasing their products through their local CSA program, local markets, in stores or online. 
  • Buy your seeds online: With many Seedy Saturdays cancelled this month, there are still ways to support local seed keepers across the country including by purchasing your seeds online. Seeds of Diversity Canada has a list of all the seed companies  in Canada. You can also search for seed companies in the Ontario Organic Directory.
  • Calling all suppliers – Help Canada combat Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): If you are a business that can offer food services or other products, Public Works and Government Services Canada is asking suppliers about their ability to provide products and services.
  • Submit your innovative solutions to help fight the impacts of Coronavirus: Tell the Ontario government if your business can support virtual mental health services, supply chain monitoring, or financial advice for small businesses to help our COVID-19 response efforts. You must fill out the submission form in one sitting. It takes about 45 minutes to complete.

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