Agri-Food Immigration Pilot launch postponed until May

Shelby Thevenot
Published: March 31, 2020

The launch of a new Canadian immigration pilot for foreign workers in the agri-food industry has been rescheduled as the government continues its response to coronavirus.

The Agri-Food Immigration Pilot is now expected to be open to applicants from May 15, 2020, until May 14, 2023. The pilot was supposed to start accepting applications on March 30. It would provide a pathway to permanent residence for workers in Canada’s agri-food sector, specifically the meat and mushroom production industries.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) says that people who are currently preparing their application will see delays in receiving supporting documentation, such as proof of education and official language proficiency. Organizations that provide these services have either temporarily reduced or suspended their operations in response to COVID-19.

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Temporary foreign workers are allowed to come to Canada despite the current travel restrictions. Like all travellers entering the country, foreign workers must quarantine themselves for a period of 14 days after arrival. Employers must not interfere with this requirement in any way.

What is the Agri-Food Immigration Pilot?

The three-year Agri-Food Immigration Pilot is meant to help retain non-seasonal foreign workers whose work supports Canada’s food supply.

Eligible candidates will have 12 months of full-time work experience, and a job offer in one of the following industries:

  • meat product manufacturing, which includes butchers, supervisors, and labourers;
  • greenhouse, nursery, and floriculture production, including mushroom production;
  • animal production excluding aquaculture.

They will also need a Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) of four in either English or French, and a high school education. Their job offer must also be outside of Quebec, which has its own agriculture immigration streams.

Canada aims to welcome about 2,750 new permanent residents per year through this pilot. Most of those allocations (1470) are set aside for industrial and retail butchers. The rest will go to food processing labourers (730), harvesting labourers (300), and farm supervisors or specialized livestock workers (50).

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