Pilot extended for agriculture labour program

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The federal government will extend the Agri-Food Pilot until May 14, 2025.

Launched in May 2020, the pilot program is designed to facilitate the transition of agricultural and food industry workers to permanent residency in Canada.

Recruiting and retaining a skilled workforce is key to success for Canadian farmers and food processors, the government says.

Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, announced the extension of the Agri-Food Pilot and the removal of the annual occupational caps, or the limits for how many candidates can apply for a specific occupation under the pilot. Removing these limits will provide an opportunity for more eligible candidates to apply, the government says.

By the end of the year, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) intends to introduce new changes to the pilot in stages, including expanding open work permit access to family members of all participants in the Agri-Food Pilot, regardless of the participant’s job skill level, and expanding allowances for attestation of work experience.

Several agriculture groups, including the Canadian Federation of Agriculture and the Canadian Meat Council, have voiced their support for these changes.

“Mushroom farms are a people business. We are happy to welcome our farm workers permanently, so our workers can fulfill their dreams and support their families, while making a positive contribution to our Canadian economy and our communities,” says Ryan Koeslag, executive director for Mushrooms Canada.

“Our farms employ people for full-time, permanent positions with competitive wages. We have about 70 per cent  Canadian employees, and over 12 per cent job vacancy rate. When Canadians don’t apply, we hire temporary foreign workers. Currently, we have over 150 of our temporary foreign workers who have applied to the Agri-Food Pilot, and we anticipate a lot more will now be eligible. We look forward to continuing to work with the Government of Canada so the program makes sense for our farm workers and employers.”

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