Farm Labour and Safety Issues


OFA Position Statement on Farm Labour

The Ontario Federation of Agriculture represents the interests of Ontario's farm businesses – the employers of farm labour.  In that role, we take our obligations to farm workers seriously and believe that all farm workers, from both Canada and abroad, should be treated with dignity and respect, and be provided with a safe, fair and rewarding work environment. 

Agricultural workplaces may involve close interactions with livestock, large and complex equipment and dangerous chemicals.  It can be hazardous for farm operators, employees, family members and visitors.  However, each Ontario farm operation is unique and requires a flexible and suited approach to ensuring employee health and safety and to matching human resources with the demands of farming.

OFA believes that legislated workplace standards must be sufficiently flexible to balance the challenges of agricultural production with the needs of farm workers.  Farm workplaces are different due to:

  • Work with living organisms
  • The seasonal nature of agricultural (food) production
  • High dependence on accommodating weather
  • Working with fragile and perishable product

The current application of workplace legislation to the agricultural sector provides the necessary flexibility to accommodate these factors and must be maintained.

While the OFA supports the principle of providing jobs to Canadians first, foreign labour is also required to fill a significant and ever increasing shortfall in farm labour.  OFA supports access to foreign agricultural labour, provided there is a shortage of Canadian workers seeking agricultural employment.

Additional Information - Background: The Nature of Farming and Work in Agriculture

Regulatory Compliance Checklist for Employing Farm Workers

If you employ people on your farm operation whether it is seasonal or permanent there are some important regulatory issues that may affect your business.

There are three provincial Acts you need to be familiar with if you are employing workers on your farm, these are:

  • The Workplace Safety and Insurance Act,
  • The Occupational Health and Safety Act, and
  • The Employment Standards Act.

This checklist will provide you with a simple and practical understanding of the Acts so that your farming operation will be in compliance with the Acts. It is not intended to replace or supplement the Acts themselves but rather should be used as a resource that explains your responsibilities as a farm employer. 

View the checklist or you can download a printable version (PDF).

You can find all of the required postings for WSIB, OHSA and ESA on the checklist resources page.

If you have any questions about this checklist or would like to provide comments, please contact

Mandatory Health and Safety Awareness Training

On November 15, 2013, Ontario’s Ministry of Labour announced that all workplaces covered under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) must ensure that workers and supervisors have completed a basic health and safety awareness training program by July 1, 2014. This includes all farms with paid employees* as agriculture operations have been covered under the Act since June 30, 2006. The Ministry of Labour has provided all the materials you will need to carry out the training.

*Note: an employee is anyone who provides labour on your farm in exchange for a wage (money), regardless of your relationship to them or the amount of time they work – if there's a wage involved, they are an employee. If you do not have paid employees, this training requirement does not apply to you.

Click here to learn more about what you have to do in accordance with the Mandatory Health and Safety Awareness Training

Labour Issues Coordinating Committee (LICC)

LICC is a farm-driven coalition group representing the interests of Ontario employers in the agriculture and horticulture sector. It was formed in May 1991 in order to develop consensus among the farm employer community on employment and labour issues, and to represent their collective position to government. The focus of LICC is on policy, legislative, regulatory, and program developments related to labour relations, employment standards, workplace safety and insurance (workers' compensation), occupational health and safety, Ontario Works, and other related labour legislation.


Sub Issues

Submissions & Correspondence

OFA submission regarding the Changing Workplaces Review
(October 14, 2016)

OFA letter regarding the next APF Phase 1 Consultations
(July 29, 2016)

OFA submission regarding Northern Ag Strategy
(June 29, 2016)

OFA Pre-budget Submission to Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs
(January 22, 2016)

Pre-budget Brief Letter to Minister of Finance
(January 27, 2014)

Additional Information

OFA Position Statement and Background on Farm Labour
(January 22, 2016)

Background: The Nature of Farming and Work in Agriculture
(January 21, 2016)

Barn Fires Involving Farm Animals - Emergency Fact Sheet
(January 18, 2016)

Mandatory Health and Safety Awareness Training
(July 1, 2014)

5 Steps to Prevent Hopper-Related Injuries
(October 3, 2013)


Health and safety on modern farms
(February 22, 2006 - Farm Labour and Safety Issues)

WSIB: Taking a Closer Look at Farm Business
(July 24, 2009 - Farm Labour and Safety Issues)

Farm Safety Protects Lives
(September 1, 2003 - Farm Labour and Safety Issues)

Start with safety this spring
(May 2, 2013 - Farm Labour and Safety Issues)

Let’s talk about farming safe
(March 7, 2014 - Farm Labour and Safety Issues)

Farm owners advised to comply with new labour requirements before busy season
(March 28, 2014 - Farm Labour and Safety Issues)

Remember safety practices when farm equipment rubber hits the road
(October 18, 2013 - Farm Labour and Safety Issues)

You can be the difference for farm safety
(March 13, 2015 - Farm Labour and Safety Issues)

OFA reminds farmers to make road safety a priority this spring
(May 1, 2015 - Farm Labour and Safety Issues, Transportation)

OFA reminds farmers to be safe this season
(October 24, 2014 - Farm Labour and Safety Issues)

OFA: Three things we want to see in the provincial budget
(January 22, 2016 - Water Issues, Land Use Policy & Farmland Preservation, Municipal Issues, Rural Economic Development, Nutrient Management, Farm Property, Health Care, Farm Labour and Safety Issues, Farm Finance, Taxation, Farm Income, Transportation, Open for Business , Local Food, Natural Gas Infrastructure, Food Literacy, Provincial Funding Transfers to Municipalities )

OFA reminds members to “Be an AgSafe Family”
(March 11, 2016 - Farm Labour and Safety Issues)

Diversified agri-food sector to drive northern growth
(July 14, 2016 - Land Use Policy & Farmland Preservation, Rural Economic Development, Agri-Food Research, Environmental Issues, Farm Labour and Safety Issues, Farm Finance, Beginning Farmer Programming, Transportation, Local Food, Climate Change, Agri-Skills Training)

Make workplace safety a priority this summer
(July 8, 2016 - Farm Labour and Safety Issues)

Farm labour shortage stifles growth
(December 16, 2016 - Farm Labour and Safety Issues)

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