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How the agri-food immigration pilot will benefit Canada

Posted on June 19, 2020
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Agri-Food Immigration Pilot Program

The agri-food immigration pilot announced by Canada in July last year started accepting applications in May this year. The pilot program was introduced to meet labor shortages in the agriculture industry.

Each year, the agri-food industry yields $110 billion in domestic sales plus an extra $65 billion in export sales. The industry supports 1 in every 8 Canadian jobs.

But talent shortages have stunted the agri-food industry’s potential for economic growth.

The agri-food immigration pilot is an attempt to hire Temporary Foreign Workers (TFWs) to meet the labor shortage in the industry. This is the first industry-specific immigration stream launched by Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). The program will allow a maximum of 2,750 candidates and their family members to submit applications every year.

The applications will be accepted till May 2023 according to the IRCC.

If the program runs for three years as planned will lead to 16,500 new permanent residents at the end of three years. The pilot program was launched to meet the labor needs in the agri-food sector in Canada.

Employers in Canada who sign up for the pilot program will be eligible for the Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) for a period of two years.

Temporary foreign workers will also be able to apply under the pilot from this year.

Eligibility requirements for the program:

Candidates must have completed 12 months of non-seasonal work under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program in an eligible occupation as mentioned above

They required a CLB level of 4 in English or French

They must have completed the Canadian equivalent of high school education or a higher level

They can have a job offer for full-time non-seasonal work in Canada except Quebec

Reasons to hire temporary foreign workers

The reasons to hire temporary foreign workers instead of relying on local Canadians for the agri-food industry include:

Canadians do not want to be working in the agri-food sector.

The work itself can be physically challenging, and worker shortages often require overtime.

Worksites are often remote, which makes the commute time-consuming. The job is often seasonal in nature, which is not suitable for Canadian workers who are searching for more reliable employment sources.

Pay within certain occupations is competitive in the agri-food industry, but there is a limit to how much the industry can pay its workers. The explanation for this is that if it hikes salaries to recruit more Canadian workers, it will have to pass the costs on to customers who are unwilling to pay more for food products.

Canada is not alone in relying on temporary foreign workers for its agri-food sector, the US, the UK and Australia to rely on these workers for the agri-food sector.

Pilot program to meet labor shortages

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) have prioritized occupations in meat, animals, greenhouse, nursery, floriculture, and mushroom production industries for the pilot program to meet labor shortages.

The pilot program is expected to provide a sustainable source of workers for the industry that will meet labor shortages and support the economic growth of the country.

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