The provincial government announced earlier this week that it will restrict the entry of temporary foreign workers to prevent a possible coronavirus outbreak.
The website will seek to fill the 600 positions that New Brunswick is aware of today, said Premier Blaine Higgs.
LEARN MORE: N.B. Green Leader Calls For Exemptions For Temporary Foreign Workers On Farms
Industries that depend on temporary workers to operate, including the seafood and agricultural sectors, have criticized the government’s decision.
Rebeka Frazer Chiasson, president of the National Farmers Union of New Brunswick, told the Canadian Press on Wednesday that skilled labor is not easy to replace and that many farmers will reduce their risks by limiting the amount that ‘they plant.
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Despite criticism, Higgs refused when asked if industries that needed temporary foreign workers would benefit from an exemption from the province’s ban.
“We work with each business owner according to their individual needs,” he said.
Industries concerned about New Brunswick’s decision to keep temporary foreign workers away
No new cases of COVID-19
As of Thursday, New Brunswick has had 12 consecutive days of no new reported cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.
Dr. Jennifer Russell, the province’s chief medical officer of health, said the number of cases detected in New Brunswick remains at 118, with only four cases remaining active.
There are no New Brunswickers in the hospital and no deaths have been reported in the province.
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Russell said the province is not looking to reopen schools until at least September, but said the lack of cases is no reason to be complacent.
She said New Brunswickers have to adjust to a new version of normal until a vaccine is developed.
“We have to get used to seeing people wearing masks when shopping, which should be considered normal,” said Russell.
Russell admitted the province may see COVID-19 outbreaks in the future, but said he was ready to deal with them.
“The time we have been given to do this preparation has been very precious,” she said.
Employment protections are now in effect
Trevor Holder, New Brunswick Minister of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labor, announced Thursday more details on a series of worker protections that were introduced during the last short session of the province’s legislature .
The measures will protect employees when they cannot work if they are:
- Act in accordance with the New Brunswick Public Health Act
- Under investigation for a suspected COVID-19 case
- Under instruction to isolate themselves by health professionals or the government of New Brunswick
- Risk of exposing others to COVID-19
- Take time off to care for someone due to COVID-19 restrictions
- Directly affected by travel restrictions
LEARN MORE: How New Brunswick’s Four-Step Plan To Recover From COVID-19 Works
The licensee stated that the protections are now in effect and are retroactive to March 12, adding that employers cannot fire anyone if they cannot work because of these conditions.
However, Holder said employers are not required to pay their employees if they go on leave.
Holder said the protections will help workers find jobs.
He said federal and provincial government programs will help those on COVID-19 leave.
Employees should request emergency leave from their employer in writing as soon as possible.
The request must include the reason for the leave, the expected start date and the duration of the leave.
Extension of the state of emergency
The province also extended its state of emergency for two weeks on Thursday.
Under the revised ordinance, all permits, registrations, certificates and permits issued under provincial laws that were valid on March 16 have been extended until June 30.
A new paragraph was also added under the ordinance, authorizing municipal councils and council committees to hold more meetings electronically.
Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you should know:
Health authorities warn against all international travel. Returning travelers are legally required to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning on March 26, in case they develop symptoms and prevent the spread of the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to provide self-isolation for people returning to the region.
Symptoms may include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing – very similar to a cold or the flu. Some people may develop a more serious illness. Those most at risk are the elderly and people with serious chronic conditions such as heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.
To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend washing your hands frequently and coughing up your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying at home as much as possible, and keeping two meters away from others if you go out.
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