Canada is launching a new 3-year economic immigration pilot that will fill labour shortages, particularly in meat processing and mushroom production, within the agri-food sector and help meet Canada’s ambitious export targets.
The Agri-Food Immigration Pilot will test a new, industry-specific approach to help address the labour needs of the Canadian agri-food sector, particularly in meat processing and mushroom production.
“The success of our Canadian farmers and food processors depends on their ability to recruit and retain the workforce they need to capture opportunities at home and abroad. 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, to help drive our economy and to feed the world.” – The Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food
While immigration in the agricultural sector is largely based on seasonal workers, this pilot aims to enhance the benefits of economic immigration to the agri-food sector by testing a new pathway to permanent residence.
The pilot will seek to attract experienced, non-seasonal workers who can economically establish in Canada, and who support the ongoing labour needs of the agri-food sector.
In particular, the pilot will focus on attracting retail butchers, industrial butchers, food processing labourers, harvesting labourers, general farm workers, and farm supervisors and specialized livestock workers.
The occupations and industries eligible under the pilot include:
- meat processing
- retail butcher
- industrial butcher
- food processing labourer
- harvesting labourer for year-round mushroom production and greenhouse crop production
- general farm worker for year-round mushroom production, greenhouse crop production, or livestock raising
- farm supervisor and specialized livestock worker for meat processing, year-round mushroom production, greenhouse crop production or livestock raising.
To be eligible to participate in 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 in processing meat products, raising livestock, or growing mushrooms or greenhouse crops
- 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
Details on how individuals may apply for permanent residence through this pilot will be available in early 2020.
“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
To complement the pilot, Employment and Social Development Canada is introducing changes that will benefit meat processor employers who are supporting temporary foreign workers in transitioning to permanent residence:
- A 2-year Labour Market Impact Assessment will be issued to eligible meat processor employers, including employers who are using the Agri-Food Immigration Pilot or other existing pathways to permanent residence for temporary foreign workers in the same occupations and industries that are eligible for the pilot.
- To be eligible, meat processors will be required to outline their plans to support their temporary foreign worker in obtaining permanent residency. Furthermore, unionized meat processors will require a letter of support from their union.
- Non-unionized meat processors will have to meet additional requirements to ensure the labour market and migrant workers are protected. A tri-partite working group will be formed immediately to develop these requirements.
- Adjustments will also be made to the way the limit (“cap”) on low-wage temporary foreign workers is calculated, taking into account efforts made by employers to help workers obtain permanent residence.
- Employers who have a recent history of recruiting workers who have made the transition to permanent residence could be eligible to be excluded from the limit calculation, a number of workers roughly equal to the number who are likely to achieve permanent residence in the near term.