Ontario Investing $25.5 million in Technology to Protect Agri-Food WorkersPublished on April 21, 2021
New funding in agriculture innovations to help reduce the spread of COVID-19
MISSISSAUGA – The Ontario government is launching a modernized cost-share intake as part of a $25.5 million program to increase the adoption of technological innovations within the agri-food sector to enhance the health and safety of workers and will improve the sector’s efficiency and productivity.
Today Ernie Hardeman, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, announced the Agri-tech Innovation Program— a $22 million cost-share program that will help farming operations and processor businesses adopt innovative and new technologies.
“I want to thank Minister Ernie Hardeman for his leadership at this difficult time for all Ontarians,” said Cuzzetto. “It's more important than ever to support Ontario agriculture, to ensure that an abundance of fresh and healthy local food remains available in our grocery stores throughout the COVID-19 crisis.”
“This large investment is a significant step forward by our government in using innovative technology to guard against the spread of COVID-19 in agri-food workplaces and protect worker health and safety,” said Minister Hardeman. “Through the adoption of advanced agriculture technology, we’re helping the sector find new and unique ways to address pandemic challenges while at the same time setting agri-food businesses up for future growth and success in modern agriculture.”
This intake will support implementation of sector-specific, unique and innovative technologies in the workplace that enhance protection of workers against COVID-19, lead to increased business efficiencies and productivity and help build the sector’s resilience. Subject to program eligibility criteria, applications for funding could include for example advanced technologies such as optical grading and sorting system in vegetable processing or automated, robotic vineyard pruning machines. Ontario will also invest in high-impact social projects for agri-food workers as part of this component.
The intake announced today is the second stage of the Agri-food Prevention and Control Innovation Program announced in Ontario’s fall 2020 budget. Under a separate stage of this broader program, the Sector Innovation Road Mapping program, up to $1.4 million was provided to agri-food organizations to identify the best path forward for agri-food businesses looking to implement innovative technical solutions and develop best practices for adoption of such technologies.
“This is an investment in the health and safety of our workers for today and in our sector for tomorrow,” said Hardeman. “Our government strongly encourages the adoption of technological innovations that protect workers in both large and small agri-food businesses, where the risks are highest and the impact of technology on modernizing these businesses will be significant.”
The first intake will run from May 17 to June 21, 2021. Further details about the intake will be available through the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs website as of May 17, 2021.
Office of Rudy Cuzzetto, MPP