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Seasonal workers arrive in Ontario for greenhouse growing season


January 27, 2022
By F.A.R.M.S

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Greenhouses across Ontario are working hard so consumers have a steady supply of fresh, local food on their tables over the winter months.

Approximately 3,000 seasonal workers from Mexico and the Caribbean began arriving throughout January at greenhouses in Leamington, Niagara and other parts of Ontario under a seasonal labour program that is critical to the success of the province’s thriving fruit and vegetable industry.

This is the 56th year the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program (SAWP) has operated in Ontario, helping growers affected by a chronic shortage of domestic labour to fill vacancies. In total, roughly 18,000 workers are expected to be placed at about 1,450 Ontario farms this growing season.

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“The greenhouse supplies a significant portion of our fresh, local produce sector and is very important to Ontario’s economy. Without this program to supplement local labour, the greenhouse industry wouldn’t be able to function effectively and we’d lose a valuable food source,” says Ken Forth, President of Foreign Agricultural Resource Management Services.

SAWP is a “Canadians first” program, which means supplementary seasonal farm labour is hired from partner countries only if farmers cannot find domestic workers willing to take the same jobs.

It is estimated that at least two jobs for Canadians are created in the agri-food industry for every seasonal agricultural worker employed through SAWP at Ontario farms.