The three-year Agri-Food Immigration Pilot will help retain experienced, non-seasonal foreign workers with eligible job offers in Canada’s agricultural and agri-foods industry.
The Government of Canada says the industry exported a record $66.2 billion in products in 2018 and supports 1 in 8 jobs across the country, but industries such as meat processing and mushroom production “have experienced ongoing difficulty in finding and keeping new employees.”
Currently, migrant farm workers who come to Canada through its Temporary Foreign Worker program for seasonal agricultural workers receive only limited-term work permits and have no pathway to permanent residency.
The occupations and industries eligible under the new Agri-Food Immigration 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.
A maximum of 2,750 principal applicants will be accepted for processing each year under the pilot. With family members, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) said the pilot could welcome approximately 16,500 new permanent residents to Canada over the course of the pilot’s three-year duration.
“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,” said Rodger Cuzner, Parliamentary Secretary to Canada’s Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, said in the news release.
The Agri-Food Immigration Pilot follows other recent initiatives by the Government of Canada that aim to help temporary foreign workers transition to permanent residence.
These initiatives include new pathways for caregivers and the dedication of 2,000 additional Provincial Nominee Program spaces to eligible intermediate-skilled temporary foreign workers.
The eligibility requirements for the Agri-Food Immigration Pilot are:
- 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;
- the foreign equivalent of a Canadian high school education or greater;
- an indeterminate job offer for full-time, non-seasonal work in Canada, outside of Quebec, at or above the prevailing wage.
The federal government says details on how individuals can apply for the pilot will be available in early 2020.
2-year LMIA for employers
Eligible employers in the meat processing sector who use the pilot will be issued a two-year Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).
In order to be eligible, meat processors will be required to outline their plans to support the temporary foreign worker in obtaining permanent residency.
Unionized meat processors will require a letter of support from their union and non-unionized meat processors will have to meet additional requirements to ensure the labour market and migrant workers are protected, IRCC says.