Agri-Food Immigration Pilot Project

This article was developed with the support of the National Ethnic Press and Media Council of Canada, under the Local Journalism Initiative (LJI) program, strengthening the voice of small Portuguese-speaking communities in remote areas of Canada. Creative Commons Attribution: CC by BrazilianWave.org

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Canadian Government Introduces Agri-Food Immigration Pilot Project

Due to the agriculture industry’s chronic labour shortages, a partial solution known as the Agri-Food Immigration Pilot has been introduced by the Federal government of Canada.

According to the official government website:

https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/immigrate-canada/agri-food-immigration-pilot/eligible-industries.html

The complete instruction guide, document checklist, and forms will be available in March 2020. Since southern Ontario, specifically the city of Leamington, Ontario, is a farming region famous for its greenhouses and tomatoes and known for its migrant worker program, this will be a great benefit for those workers.

On Monday October 9, 2017, in an article entitled “Leamington is at the frontlines of the boom in migrant workers. Here’s how it’s changed”, in the Star newspaper by Sara Mojtehedzadeh: Work and Wealth reporter, Nicholas Keung: Immigration reporter and Jim Rankin, Feature reporter, it was stated that then Mayor John Paterson figured that these temporary farm workers, mostly from Mexico and the Caribbean had transformed the economy in Leamington by the labour they provide and money they spent in the city to be $15 million dollars a year.

This new pilot project, Agri-Food will offer these migrant farm workers a pathway to permanent residency in Canada and marks a new beginning for foreign workers who do not meet the requirements to stay in Canada under Canada’s immigration programs which were designed for highly educated and skilled professionals.

The program marks a new beginning for foreign farm workers, who, usually with little formal education, have had limited opportunities to stay in Canada for failing to meet the requirements of the country’s economic immigration programs that are designed to attract highly educated and skilled professionals.

For decades employers, unions and migrants’ workers had approached the Canadian government to assist in the legalization of their residential status.

This pilot is open to those who work year-round in meat processing, mushroom and greenhouse crop production and raising livestock. However, to be eligible for permanent residence, they must have 12 months of full-time experience in those areas, enough English or French proficiency to take part in short everyday conversations, a high school education and a job offer.

Farming is an important industry because it employs a quarter of our population, it provides our personal daily food, and for many industries. Agriculture is Canada’s trade and commerce.

After the EU, U.S., Brazil, and China, Canada is the fifth largest exporter of agricultural and agri-food products in the world. Canada normally exports $56 billion a year in agriculture and agri-food products. In 2017, agricultural exports hit a new record, of $66.2 billion.

According to the statistics provided by CAFTA, Canadian Agri-Food Trade Alliance, Canada exports the following:

  • half of our beef/cattle
  • 70% of our soybeans
  • 70% of our pork
  • 75% of our wheat
  • 90% of our canola and
  • 95% of our pulses

Over 90 percent of Canada’s farmers are dependent on exports as well as about 40 percent of our food processing sector.

Over the last 10 years, there’s been 103% growth in the agriculture and agri-food exports over the same period, farm cash receipts increased by 46%.

Industries are classified by the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). Eligible industries for the Agri-Food Immigration Pilot are

  • meat product manufacturing (NAICS 3116)
  • greenhouse, nursery and floriculture production, including mushroom production (NAICS 1114)
  • animal production, excluding aquaculture (NAICS 1121, 1122, 1123, 1124 or 1129)

For greenhouse, nursery and floriculture production, including mushroom production (NAICS 1114), eligible jobs are:

  • NOC B 8252 – Farm supervisors and specialized livestock workers
  • NOC C 8431 – General farm workers
  • NOC D 8611 – Harvesting labourers

For animal production, excluding aquaculture (NAICS 1121, 1122, 1123, 1124 and 1129), eligible jobs are:

  • NOC B 8252 – Farm supervisors and specialized livestock workers
  • NOC C 8431 – General farm workers

Eligibility requirements under this pilot project for permanent residency are:

  • 12 months of full-time experience in those areas
  • enough English or French proficiency to take part in short everyday conversations,
  • a high school education and a job offer

There are more than 500,000 migrant workers working with temporary status in Canada. Most of these migrant workers are from Mexico and Jamaica where work is scarce and standard of living lower than in Canada. However, the Agri-Food Immigration Pilot is not only opened to those 2 countries, but those that meet the eligibility requirements.

My hope is that this program will be a great success and resolve many of the issues that Migrants workers face who are sponsored under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP) due to their language barrier, risk of being exploited and abused. Due to reported precarious and lack of support, may this also provide these workers access to services in Canada that they deserve.

This article was developed with the support of the National Ethnic Press and Media Council of Canada, under the Local Journalism Initiative (LJI) program, strengthening the voice of small Portuguese-speaking communities in remote areas of Canada. Creative Commons Attribution: CC by BrazilianWave.org