Canada is committed to attracting the best talent from around the world to fill labour and skills shortages, drive local economies, and create and support middle-class jobs in communities across the country that will benefit all Canadians.
Today, the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, met with stakeholders at the Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers (OGVG) to highlight a new 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 the Honourable 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.
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 the Minister’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.
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.
“The success of our farmers and food processors depends on their ability to recruit and retain the workforce they need. 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 so they can help drive our economy and feed the world.”
– The Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food
“This pilot is another example of how immigration is helping to grow local economies and creating jobs for Canadians.”
– The Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship
“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.”
– George Gilvesy, Chair, Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers
“I am very encouraged by the announcement of this program which demonstrates the government’s commitment to providing a pathway for dedicated workers to become citizens of Canada. 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. We look forward to more specific details on the program eligibility and that it will be designed to be accessible to our employees.”
– Aaron Hamer, President and CEO, Highline Produce Limited
“Canadian agriculture, along with the mushroom industry, finally have their own access to Canadian immigration. 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.”
– Ryan Koeslag, Executive VP, Canadian Mushroom Growers Association
“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.”
– Rodger Cuzner, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour
The agriculture and agri-food industry is an important contributor to Canada’s economic growth and vitality, supporting one in eight jobs across the country. Agriculture and agri-food exports hit a new record in 2018, reaching $66.2 billion.
The Agri-Food Immigration Pilot complements Canada’s economic immigration strategy, which includes the Atlantic Immigration Pilot, the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot, the Global Skills Strategy, a revitalized Express Entry and an expanded Provincial Nominee Program.