Most Canadians support permanent immigration pathways for temporary foreign workers

Shelby Thevenot
Published: January 2, 2021

The majority of Canadians want to see temporary workers in the agricultural sector become permanent residents, according to a new survey.

Nanos Research, a market and public opinion research firm held a random survey of 1,039 Canadians over the age of 18 between October 28 and November 1, this year.

Results show more than eight in 10 Canadians would support a permanent immigration program for temporary foreign workers to remain in Canada. Support is strongest among Atlantic Provinces, and weakest in the Prairie Provinces.

The majority of Canadians agree that temporary foreign workers are essential to Canada's agricultural sector, and they should be entitled to the same benefits and protections as any other worker. British Columbians were most likely to share these views.

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More than eight in 10 Canadians also say that federal programs like the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, and Seasonal Agricultural Worker program have a positive impact on agriculture in Canada.

About 97 per cent of participants agreed that the agriculture sector is an important contributor to Canada's economy.

Participants were randomly recruited by telephone using live agents and administered a survey online. The margin of error for this survey is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

The research was commissioned by Senator Ratna Omidvar and Senator Robert Black.

Immigration minister hints towards more pathways for temporary residents

Canada's minister of immigration, Marco Mendicino, has mentioned to the media the federal government is looking into ways to offer temporary residents more pathways to permanent residence.

What these pathways may be is not yet known, Mendicino has suggested that they will be focused on workers who are contributing to essential parts of the economy. Especially those working in occupations such as doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and support workers, where there are dire needs in the labour force.

Coronavirus safety measures, such as travel restrictions, have reduced immigration to Canada. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada's strategy for immigration intake during the pandemic has been to prioritize applicants who are already in Canada. As such, the federal government is increasing immigration targets to over 401,000 new permanent residents next year, and up to 1.2 million over the next three years.

Canada already has a pathway to permanent residence for some agriculture workers through the Agri-Food Immigration Pilot. This pilot program is for people who are working in meat processing, mushroom and greenhouse production, as well as livestock-raising industries. Applications are open until May 14, 2023.

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