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N.B. Green leader calls for exemptions for temporary foreign workers for farms


April 30, 2020
By The Canadian Press

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Photo: Hobo018/Getty Images

The leader of New Brunswick’s Green party is calling on the provincial government to provide a wage subsidy to help farmers recruit and retain workers, and to permit exemptions to the order barring temporary foreign workers from entering the province.

David Coon says the government’s last-minute decision to close the provincial borders to temporary foreign workers, just before planting season, is depriving farmers of trained and experienced workers.

Premier Blaine Higgs announced the restriction Tuesday, saying the situation with COVID-19 makes it too risky to allow a greater number of people to enter the province.

Higgs said there are already 1,500 temporary foreign workers in the province and 70,000 people who are unemployed, who can fill the remaining jobs.

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Coon says farmers who can demonstrate they can quarantine their workers for 14 days and provide for physical distancing in their accommodations should be eligible for exemptions.

The National Farmers Union has warned the restriction on temporary foreign workers will force some farmers to reduce the amount of crops they plant this year.