CFA pleased to see progress on agri-food immigration pilot
The Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) was pleased to see the recent announcement by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) which detailed new pathways to permanent residency for temporary foreign workers in the agri-food industry.
Starting in 2020 a three-year immigration experiment will begin, where temporary foreign workers will be able to apply for permanent residency after accumulating 12 months of Canadian work experience and, if approved, will also be allowed to bring their families into Canada.
CFA has specifically communicated to government officials the critical importance of increasing pathways to permanent residency for farm workers and other rural occupations since 2014.
The Canadian agriculture sector has been facing labour shortages for many years, with a 2019 report from the Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council finding these shortages resulted in annual lost sales of $2.9 billion for primary agriculture alone. The same report forecasts continued growth in the sector's labour needs, resulting in a potential labour gap of 123,000 by 2029, equivalent to 32 per cent of labour demand for that year.
"Canadian agriculture has been identified as a sector with a huge potential growth from studies like the Barton Report and the Agri-Food Economic Strategy Table," said Mary Robinson, CFA president. "But this growth will not be achieved if we cannot meet our labour demands. Pilots such as this show the government is recognizing the problem and taking real steps to address it. Canadian agriculture is a foundational industry, and any growth that it experiences moves up the value chain, creating further growth in related industries such as transportation and food processing. That's why we are pleased to see a comprehensive pilot addressing the needs of both primary agriculture and the Canadian food processing industry. With access to skilled labour when we need it, Canadian agriculture can meet its potential and flourish."
Canadian farmers across this country believe this pilot demonstrates a clear recognition of the economic importance of rural Canada and the enabling role that immigration can play in leveraging its immense potential for inclusive growth and prosperity, through key sectors like Canadian agriculture.
CFA is pleased to see a collaborative approach to this pilot, with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) making critical changes to address existing constraints in both immigration policy and the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.
CFA looks forward to continue its work with the Government of Canada in assessing how the pilot is responding to latent demand for permanent residency throughout the sector, recognizing that this pilot is a first step that will need to evolve as farmers realize these new opportunities and look to address year-round vacancies through this exciting new pathway to permanent residency.
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