Mexico pauses farm worker program in Canada after coronavirus deaths

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico has paused its migrant farm worker program in Canada, Mexico’s foreign ministry spokesman said on Tuesday, after a coronavirus outbreak in Ontario killed two workers fro

Mexico pauses farm worker program in Canada after coronavirus deaths

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico has paused its migrant farm worker program in Canada, Mexico’s foreign ministry spokesman said on Tuesday, after a coronavirus outbreak in Ontario killed two workers from Mexico, although Canadian farm groups said the suspension was limited.

The outbreak has hit at least 17 farms, killing two Mexicans aged 24 and 31, and prompting the testing of about 8,000 migrant farm workers.

Spokesman Daniel Millan said the program was on a “temporary pause.” However, the farm groups said the suspension was limited only to workers destined for affected farms, and not for the whole program.

Canadian farmers rely on 60,000 short-term foreign workers, predominantly from Latin America and the Caribbean, to plant and harvest crops.

Ken Forth, president of Foreign Agricultural Resource Management Services (FARMS), which helps administer the foreign worker program in Canada, said the Mexican government is looking for assurances from farms hit by the coronavirus that workers will be safe.

“No additional workers will go to the farms where there’s an outbreak until they can demonstrate to the Mexican government that they’ve done all the protocol for the new workers to come in,” Forth said.

CNN and Canadian media earlier reported that Mexico had put the program on hold while it reviewed Canadian health policies and procedures, citing a Mexican embassy officials in Ottawa.

Reporting by Frank Jack Daniel and Daina Beth Solomon in Mexico City; Kelsey Johnson in Ottawa; Editing by David Gregorio

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