The provincial election means BC farmers will have to wait for their share of $35 million in emergency funding the federal government announced at the end of July.
“During the interregnum, it would not be prudent for the Ministry of Agriculture to take on administration commitments that would bind an incoming administration,” a statement from the BC Ministry of Agriculture said this week.
Ottawa announced this week that it had struck deals with four provinces to deliver the on-farm support fund as part of a $58.6 million investment to safeguard the health and safety of Canadian and temporary foreign farm workers from COVID-19.
The program covers up to half the cost of worker safety initiatives, including “direct infrastructure improvements to living quarters and work stations, temporary or emergency housing (on or off-farm), as well as personal protective equipment (PPE), sanitary stations, work stations and any other health and safety measures.”
Any farm whose ownership is 51% controlled by women and farmers under the age of 30 is eligible for a 60% reimbursement of costs, or 20% more than farms owned by men and older farmers.
While the provision is designed to enhance the diversity of Canadian agriculture, federal agriculture minister Marie-Claude Bibeau said similar programs could be implemented to accommodate visible minorities.
“Within the agricultural sector, the biggest diversity challenge we have is with women and youth, but there is certainly Indigenous and Black community that could also be included in this privileged cost sharing, absolutely,” she told media regarding the funding.
The funding will apply to investments made as early as March 15 of this year, and run through to the end of February 2021. The maximum funding available per farm is $100,000. Approved funding is intended to flow within 30 days of applications being submitted.