Federal Government Announces Pilot Program for Farm Workers

Farms across Canada have a labour shortage, and the Federal government announced today that they’re starting to a new pilot program to help them out on that end. It’s a three-year economic immigration pilot that will try and fill labour shortages in the agri-food sector with a special emphasis on meat processing and mushroom production.

The Agri-Food Immigration Pilot will attempt to attract a maximum of 2,750 principal applicants, plus family members, to try and alleviate labour shortages in different areas of the agri-food economy. According to a government press release, many areas, including meat processing and mushroom production, are having trouble attracting and retaining job talent. The government hopes that attracting new immigrants with permanent residency might help fill the void.

“The success of our Canadian farmers and food processors depends on their ability to recruit and retain the workforce they need to capture opportunities at home and abroad,” said Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, in a press release. “This pilot will help to ensure that employers in the agriculture and agri-food sector have the people they need to get the job done, to help drive our economy and to feed the world.”

“Today we are delivering on something that employers, unions, and migrant workers have been calling on government to do for over a decade – temporary foreign workers who come to this country and work hard filling permanent jobs should have a fair and reasonable chance to become a Canadian regardless of the job they are filling.” added Rodger Cuzner, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Employment, Workforce.

Today’s statement was teased by Guelph MP Lloyd Longfield at another announcement on Wednesday. “I’ve been working with some of the farms, and we know we need more people available to work through peak seasons,” Longfield said.

Labour issues will also likely be on the table for discussion next week at the annual meeting of Federal, Provincial and Territorial Agricultural Ministers. The Agri-Food sector accounts for one out of eight jobs in Canada, and $66.2 billion in exports in 2018.

According to the Federal government, the Agri-Food Immigration Pilot will complement Canada’s economic immigration strategy – including the Atlantic Immigration Pilot, the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot, and the Global Skills Strategy – and will help drive local economies and fill gaps in skilled labour.

“Our government is always looking for ways to promote growth in rural communities,” added Bernadette Jordan, Minister of Rural Economic Development. “This pilot provides those communities who rely on the agri-food sector the opportunity to address their labour market needs. It builds upon commitments made in Canada’s first-ever Rural Economic Development Strategy and the successful Atlantic Immigration Pilot.”

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