Last week, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities (HUMA) released its report of and 21 recommendations for changes to the Temporary Foreign Workers Program.
While the program applies to any industry in Canada, it is largely used by the farming and agriculture processing industries. Changes to the program over the last two to four years have significantly eroded the usefulness of the program, say those who use it, and that has negatively impacted primary processing competitiveness within Canada and in export markets.
For the meat processing industry, Ron Davidson, with the Canadian Meat Council, says recent changes to the program have limited the amount of value-added cutting that happens in Canada. “It’s meant exporting not just meat — but also jobs — out of Canada, then we import higher value cuts back in,” he says.
Of particular note, says Ryan Koeslag, with Mushrooms Canada, the committee has recommended the removal of the so-called “four in, four out” rule, where a worker who has accumulated four years of working in Canada would have to leave for four years, which significantly impacted the “pathway to permanency” many in the industry are working towards.
We spoke with both Koeslag and Davidson about the recommendations, which of the 21 matter most, and how soon we may see action on these changes.
Fast Fact: Research by the Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council (CAHRC) has shown that primary agriculture has seen the labour gap double in the last 10 years to approximately 60,000 and by 2025 it is expected to reach 114,000.