Farm Operators with International Workers
Farm owners/operators who employ and house international agricultural workers have a responsibility to ensure workers’ housing accommodations and drinking water are safe. Farms are required to comply with the Health Protection and Promotion Act and Seasonal Workers Housing Guidelines. York Region Public Health inspects these farms every year to ensure they comply with public health legislation.
Farm owners/operators must also ensure that their workers’ housing accommodations comply with the Ontario Building Code and Fire Code requirements. Consult your local municipal building department before building or adding new housing accommodations or renovating the existing ones. Contact your local fire department to ensure Fire Code requirements are met before the inspection by a Public Health Inspector.
How and When to Notify Public Health
Farm owners/operators who employ and house international agricultural workers must notify public health:
- To arrange an inspection of their housing accommodations in order to apply for worker approval.
Submit a Request for Inspection of Seasonal Farm Workers' Housing.
- To report a worker who is a COVID-19 positive or symptomatic case, or a contact:
Use the electronic Agriculture Case and Contact Reporting Tool or
Call Access York at 1-877-464-9675
To report an adverse (unsatisfactory) water quality test result.
Call York Region Health Connection at 1-800-361-5653 ext. 4 to speak with a public health inspector.
Public Health Inspections
York Region Public Health inspects farms in York Region that employ and house international agricultural workers in York Region every year to ensure they comply with the Health Protection and Promotion Act and Seasonal Workers Housing Guidelines.
Farm workers’ housing accommodations are inspected for health hazards, water potability (whether the water is safe for drinking), and to check that proper infection prevention and control practices are being followed.
To arrange a public health inspection of your housing accommodations in order to apply for worker approval, farm owners/operators must submit a Request for Inspection of Seasonal Farm Workers' Housing Form to York Region Public Health.
See the Seasonal Farm Worker Accommodations Inspection Report for a sample of what public health inspectors look for during an inspection.
Water Sampling and Testing
It is strongly recommended that farm owners/operators test their water for E. coli and total coliform bacteria before workers arrive, and at a minimum three times per season. Water bottles for testing can be picked up and dropped off at various York Region offices at no-cost. Learn more about how and when to test your water.
Farm owners/operators should notify Public Health of an adverse (unsatisfactory) water quality test result. Call York Region Health Connection at 1-800-361-5653 x 4 to speak with a public health inspector.
COVID-19 Resources and Updates
Review the latest COVID-19 guidance for farm owners/operators with international agricultural workers.
- Seasonal Farm Workers Housing Guidelines
- Seasonal Farm Worker Accommodations Inspection Report (Sample)
- Farms Operations and Farms Workers - COVID-19 Checklist (Sample)
- F.A.R.M.S. organization
- York Region Economic Development: Agriculture and Agri-Food
- York Region Agriculture and Agri-Food Newsletters