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BCFGA answers producer questions about seasonal workers

The B.C. Fruit Growers Association answers questions of the week about seasonal workers.


March 19, 2020
By Fruit and Vegetable

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The B.C. Fruit Growers Association (BCFGA) answered frequently asked questions about seasonal agricultural workers in its weekly newsletter.

The travel restrictions that came into effect March 18 directly impact the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) by preventing workers part of the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP) and TFWP-Ag Stream from entering Canada.

The announcement by Public Safety Minister Bill Blair that temporary foreign workers would be allowed into Canada only applies to temporary foreign workers from the United States.

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“The bad news is that industry is back to square one on the travel ban for SAWP and TFWP-Ag Stream workers,” the B.C. Fruit Growers Association newsletter read. “The good news is that the CFA-CHC [Canadian Federation of Agriculture and Canadian Horticultural Council] proposals are in front of the federal cabinet.”

Approximately 8,500 seasonal workers from SAWP come to B.C. annually and approximately 2,000 workers from the TFWP-Ag Stream.

BCFGA also included that the International Experience Canada Program that allows youth to visit Canada and work will also be impacted. “For B.C. the number of backpackers could amount to 1,500 workers, mainly in the Okanagan and excluding the youth that come from Quebec. Quebec youth could add another 1,500 workers that may not show up this season, just due to decreased willingness to travel,” the newsletter read.

The BCFGA also added that a B.C. Agriculture Council labour committee conference call was held on March 19, and another call is scheduled for tomorrow.

Below are the BCFGA’s answers to questions of the week regarding seasonal workers:

With all of the confusion over the travel ban, should I delay submitting my LMIA?

No. Submit your LMIA on your schedule. If everyone delays submitting LMIAs, there will be a backlog when the travel ban is resolved and that will cause unnecessary delays in processing applications. Also, there were delays in processing Work Permits by the Canadian Consulate in Mexico earlier in this season, so it may be best to apply earlier than planned.

I have workers scheduled to arrive next week and the travel ban is still on, should I cancel the flights?

As things stand, it is probably best to cancel flights within the next week, but communicate with the Mexican consulate or Liaison Services first. For Mexico SAWP workers, email Arturo at MiTierra (arturo@mitierraholidays.com).

My SAWP workers are from Mexico. There seems to be some problem with SIMOL, the computer program used to schedule workers. What should I do?

SIMOL is not working properly and workers must be contacted directly about travel arrangements.

The information below is from the Consulate General of Mexico in Vancouver regarding SIMOL, Mexico’s Ministry of Labour database for worker information:

Please be advised that due to technical difficulties, the database used by the Ministry of Labour in Mexico named SIMOL, to which some of you have access, may not reflect accurate information with regards flight itineraries, workers´ visas or other data from your farm or the worker. Your patience while this issue is being resolved is greatly appreciated.

In the mid time, please communicate all information with regards to flight itineraries to your workers directly and to the Consulate and Mi Tierra Holidays. If you have any further concerns, comments or questions please write us an email using the following format and send it to sawpmobilityvan@sre.gob.mx .

Format for inquiries:
Farm:
Worker name:
Worker file number:
Situation:

The Ministry of Labour is already working to fix the issue and we are hoping it can be solved within the next two weeks.

My SAWP Workers are worried about COVID-19. What ‘official’ information can I provide to them?

The link below from Health B.C. is for preventive measures with regards to the novel COVID-19 Coronavirus in English, Punjabi and Spanish.

A list of Canadian government resources for temporary foreign workers and COVID-19: