Agri-food immigration pilot announced
July 30, 2019 By Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (edited)
The federal government is launching a three-year economic immigration pilot that aims to attract and retain experienced, non-seasonal workers by providing them with an opportunity to become permanent residents.
The immigration pilot, announced on July 12 by Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, will test a new, industry-specific approach to help address the labour needs of the agri-food sector, particularly in meat processing, mushroom production and greenhouse crop production. Addressing these labour market needs will help key industries in Canada’s specialized agri-food sector grow, and help meet Canada’s ambitious export targets.
“OGVG is pleased to support the announcement of Canada’s new Agri-Food Immigration Pilot which will provide a pathway to residency for interested and qualified international farm workers. This pilot identifies the current labour gaps in the greenhouse sector and will help to build talent, retain skills and support sector growth across the country,” says George Gilvesy, chair of Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers.
Under the pilot, eligible occupations in the greenhouse and mushroom industry are harvesting labourer, general farm worker, and farm supervisor and all are for year-round production. To be eligible for the pilot, candidates must have:
- 12 months of full-time, non-seasonal Canadian work experience in the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, in an eligible occupation
- a Canadian Language Benchmark level 4 in English or French
- an education at high school level or greater (Canadian equivalency)
- an indeterminate job offer for full-time, non-seasonal work in Canada, outside of Quebec, at or above the prevailing wage
Over the past several years, a number of these industries have experienced ongoing difficulty in finding and keeping new employees for year-round positions. As part of Agriculture and Agri-Food minister Marie-Claude Bibeau’s visit to the Leamington area, she also toured Vine Fresh Acres Ltd, an innovative high-wire cucumber producer, and Highline Mushrooms, the largest mushroom grower in Canada.
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“By announcing this pilot, the government is recognizing that the agricultural sector in Canada has a growing shortage of permanent year-round employees and is dedicated to finding a solution that works for all stakeholders,” says Aaron Hamer, president and CEO of Highline Produce.
Employers in the agri-food sector who intend to be part of the pilot, or other existing pathways to permanent residence for foreign workers in the same occupations and industries, will be eligible for a two-year Labour Market Impact Assessment.
Temporary foreign workers will be able to apply under this pilot in early 2020. A maximum of 2,750 principal applicants, plus family members, will be accepted for processing in any given year. This represents a total of approximately 16,500 possible new permanent residents over the three-year duration of the pilot.
“In the past, Canada’s agriculture and immigration policy were intertwined. That is how Canada was settled. For the last decade or more, however, mushroom growers and other farmers, have fought for immigration access for workers employed in year-round jobs. Agriculture needs immigration access, just like any other sector. We are proud to now say, agriculture is officially part of Canada’s immigration plan,” says Ryan Koeslag, executive vice-president of Canadian Mushroom Growers Association.
Details on how individuals may apply for permanent residence through this pilot will be available in early 2020.
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