202-3002 32nd Ave, Vernon BC Canada V1T 2L7 info@certifiedorganic.bc.ca

The COABC is closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation in BC and is working hard to determine the impacts, stay on top of the latest information and keep the organic sector informed.

Below is a list of resources that will be updated frequently. If you have a resource to add, please get in touch with communications@organicbc.org.

Recent Updates

Latest Funding Opportunities

  • Launch Online Grant Program – As part of StrongerBC, B.C.’s Economic Recovery Plan the Launch Online Grant program will invest up to $12 million to help small- and medium-size businesses throughout B.C. move their business model online. Additional grant funding and expanded eligibility criteria were recently announced. More details.
  • As a part of the economic recovery from COVID-19, the BC Ministry of Agriculture is funding a new program called Food Business Refresh, a cost-share program that supports local food and beverage processors to find opportunities to pivot from markets disrupted by COVID 19 to new market channels. The program is currently accepting waitlist applications. Apply at: www.foodbusinessrefresh.ca
  • The Small and Medium-Sized Business Recovery Grant program provides fully-funded grants to businesses to ensure they have the support they need during and beyond COVID-19. Grants of $10,000 to $30,000 are available. Businesses only need to show a 30% revenue loss from March 2020 to now when compared to the same one-month period in 2019. The program has been extended to August 31, 2021 or until funds are fully expended. More details.
  • Regional Relief and Recovery Fund: Additional funding to provide further support for businesses – The Government of Canada announced an additional $600 million in funding for the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF). This additional funding will continue to help businesses and organizations weather the impact of COVID-19. More details.
  • On-Farm Food Safety Program: COVID-19 Funding Now Available – In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the increased need for safety precautions for the agriculture sector, the On-Farm Food Safety Program is offering funding for protective and safety equipment for the April 2020 – March 2021 fiscal year. Eligible companies can seek funding to acquire personal protective equipment and other approved safety supplies for use at their facilities in order to maintain a safe workplace and mitigate the risk of COVID-19.
  • Local Food Infrastructure FundThe Local Food Infrastructure Fund is a five-year, $50 million initiative ending March 31, 2024. The program is part of the Government of Canada’s Food Policy. The Fund aims to strengthen food support organizations and to help improve access to safe and nutritious food for Canadians at risk. Applications will be accepted until December 31, 2023 (or an earlier date) based on funding availability.
  • Looking for financial assistance to train new staff? The BC Employer Training Grant program (ETG) helps employers recruit and retain employees by providing them with the skills training they need for employment or to adapt to the changing requirements of jobs. For information about the ETG, eligibility criteria and how to apply, visit workbc.ca/bcemployertraininggrant.

Digital Marketing Bootcamp

Feb. 8, 2021: As part of StrongerBC: BC’s Economic Recovery Plan, government has invested $2 million to fund up to 2,500 seats in the Digital Marketing Bootcamp. The bootcamp is free for small and medium-sized businesses with one to 149 employees, and sole proprietors. More details.

Essential Services Contigency Reserve

Feb. 8, 2021: Organizations that provide essential services, such as food sector companies, may request access to the Government of Canada’s Essential Services Contingency Reserve (ESCR). Through the ESCR, eligible essential service business or organizations may apply to receive personal protective equipment (PPE), non-medical masks and disinfection products to address urgent, short-term (45 days) needs.

More details.

Ministry of Agriculture’s response to COVID-19

Jan 28, 2021: Information on how the Ministry of Agriculture is proactively responding to COVID-19. Includes the lastest PHO and guidance, business resources and more.

More details.

Launch of Pre-Budget Consultations 2021

Jan 25, 2021: Finance Canada has launched the Government of Canada’s annual Pre-Budget Consultations (PBC), ahead of Budget 2021. The government wants to hear the very best ideas on how to continue to support Canadians affected by the pandemic, create new jobs and build a greener, more competitive, more innovative, more inclusive, more resilient Canada.

Learn more.

Government expands Canada Emergency Business Account loans

Dec. 4, 2020: Starting on December 4, 2020, eligible businesses facing financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic are able to access a second CEBA loan of up to $20,000 – on top of the initial $40,000 that was available to small businesses.

This means the additional loan effectively increases CEBA loans from the existing $40,000 to $60,000 for eligible businesses, of which a total of $20,000 will be forgiven if the balance of the loan is repaid on time.

As announced in the Fall Economic Statement, the application deadline for CEBA has also been extended to March 31, 2021.

More details.

Supporting the Health and Wellbeing of Migrant Agricultural Workers on Organic Farms in BC During COVID-19

Oct 8, 2020: Are you an organic farmer who hires migrant workers? Do you want to know more about how you can improve conditions for your workers? This info sheet was developed with organic agriculture in mind as a shared informational resource for both migrant workers and employers, and is available in both English and Spanish. It includes tips for how to improve living and working conditions, links to resources from trusted experts and government authorities, and explains the links between #StatusForAll and migrant worker health and well-being.

English: https://bcfoodweb.ca/sites/default/files/res_files/Info%20sheet-%20oct5_EN.pdf

Spanish: https://bcfoodweb.ca/sites/default/files/res_files/Ficha%20informativa_5oct_SP.pdf

COVID-19 Information Portal for Farmers and Food Processors

July 17, 2020: Agriculture Canada has created an information portal to help farmers, food processors, and agri-food businesses find information on new and existing programs and financial resources during COVID-19.  Learn more.

Virtual Agriculture Town Hall

June 5, 2020: Now that the province is beginning to reopen, what’s in store for BC’s food supply? How does the BC government plan to support small farmers during this time? BC Agriculture Minister Lana Popham touched on these topics and more during this virtual Agriculture Town Hall with chef Ned Bell, organic farmer Parm Bains of Westberry Farms, and ASL interpretor Nigel Howard. Check it out here.

BC Farm, Fish & Food Job Connector

May 28, 2020: This online platform showcases current job vacancies throughout the province, including those for crop harvesters, farm workers, agrologists and more. And, it also connects agriculture, seafood and food processing businesses to the latest sector-specific information to support their recruitment and HR management during these difficult times. Check it out here.

ACA & IOIA COVID-19 Update and Best Practices

May 14th, 2020: As the COVID-19 outbreak continues to create travel restrictions which may impact organic certification, the Accredited Certifiers Association (ACA) and the International Organic Inspectors Association (IOIA) have released an industry-wide pandemic contingency plan, Contingency Plans for Verifying Compliance When On-Site Inspections are not Possible. This “Best Practices” document is the result of collaboration of over 125 participants, representing organic certifiers, independent organic inspectors, and other stakeholders. Read the document here.

Implementation of COR

March 24, 2020CFIA news release: In light of the COVID 19 situation, the CFIA will postpone all planned audits of CVBs under the COR until the restrictions on non-essential travel are over.

The CFIA in collaboration with the CVBs, has developed criteria for remote audits of the CBs to provide flexibility and reduce the need for onsite audits by the CVBs. The CFIA will support CVBs taking appropriate measures and adjusting their surveillance activities.

The CFIA will allow flexibility in CBs inspection frequency for renewal of current organic certification. The CFIA accredited CBs are also requested to assess the risks of continuing certification and establish a documented process outlining the steps they intend to take, in case an operator is affected by the COVID-19 and/or on-site inspection is not possible due to travel restrictions.

Read the full release here.

Industry Updates

AgSafe BC

New and updated COVID-19 resources: https://agsafebc.ca/covid-19

BC Agriculture Council

Updates for BC farmers and ranchers, particularly regarding seasonal agricultural workers: bcac.ca

BC Association of Farmers’ Markets Association (BCAFM)

Latest updates for markets, vendors and consumers: bcfarmersmarket.org/bcafm-covid19

Canadian Food Inspection Agency

FAQ and information for employees and industry: https://inspection.gc.ca/eng/1297964599443/1297965645317

Temporary Foreign Workers Program

Please see the BCAC website for updates that relate to the Temporary Foreign Workers program. For producers who employ or are expecting the arrival of temporary foreign workers through the SAWP and/or AgStream programs, please subscribe to the WALI Update email list to receive relevant COVID-19 updates and information.

WorkSafe BC – Agriculture and COVID-19 Safety

Iinformation specific to the Ag Sector on how employers can minimize the risk of COVID-19 transmission and illness to themselves, workers, and others at the workplace. The information covers general precautions plus details on worker transportation, worker accommodation, temporary foreign workers and more. More details.

Other resources

BC Ministry of Health

Latest news releases: news.gov.bc.ca/ministries/health

Workplace Guidance for Sector Employers and Employees

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada has worked with federal partners to develop public health guidance and provide links to key resources for the agriculture and agri-food sector, based on questions received over the last few weeks. The information is now available on-line at “Workplace guidance for sector employers and employees.” AAFC will continually update this webpage as new guidance is available or as the need for more information is noted by industry, so please check back regularly.

Go2HR Job Board

Go2HR Job Board has opened its tourism and hospitality focused job board to include the agriculture and food processing sector. This provides a unique opportunity to connect displaced tourism and hospitality employees (due to COVID-19 pandemic) with employment opportunities in agriculture.

Small Business BC

Small Business BC recently launched a new COVID-19 support service page as a single point of contact for BC businesses looking for information on the various government COVID-19 resources. Small Business BC advisors can be reached directly through this page, and can help you navigate through the various support services.

Public Health Agency of Canada – Get COVID-19 Updates

April 20, 2020: The Government of Canada is offering a new email subscription to get updates on COVID-19. Sign up here to receive an email whenever there is an important change or update. These updates will include changes to national public health advice, updates to federal services and more.

Conference Board of Canada

The latest updates, data, forecasts, research on the growing spread of coronavirus, and useful tools that will help you and your organizations navigate these challenging times: www.conferenceboard.ca/insights/covid-19

Mental Health Resources