Canada is launching an ambitious new three-year economic immigration pilot that will fill labour shortages, particularly in meat processing and mushroom production, within the agri-food sector and help meet Canada’s ambitious export targets, the federal government announced last Friday.
The agriculture and agri-food industry are important contributors to Canada’s economic growth and vitality, supporting 1 in 8 jobs across the country. Agricultural exports hit a new record in 2018, reaching $66.2 billion, says the government.
Over the past several years, industries such as meat processing and mushroom production have experienced ongoing difficulty in finding and keeping new employees.
This new pilot aims to attract and retain workers by providing them with an opportunity to become permanent residents.
The Agri-Food Immigration Pilot complements Canada’s economic immigration strategy, which includes the Atlantic Immigration Pilot, the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot, the Global Skills Strategy, a revitalized Express Entry and an expanded Provincial Nominee Program.
Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, said: “This pilot is another example of how immigration is helping to grow local economies and creating jobs for Canadians.”
Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food said: “The success of our Canadian farmers and food processors depends on their ability to recruit and retain the workforce they need to capture opportunities at home and abroad. This pilot will help to ensure that employers in the agriculture and agri-food sector have the people they need to get the job done, to help drive our economy and to feed the world.”
Bernadette Jordan, Minister of Rural Economic Development, added: “Our government is always looking for ways to promote growth in rural communities. This pilot provides those communities who rely on the agri-food sector the opportunity to address their labour market needs. It builds upon commitments made in Canada’s first-ever Rural Economic Development Strategy and the successful Atlantic Immigration Pilot.”
Rodger Cuzner, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, said: “Today we are delivering on something that employers, unions, and migrant workers have been calling on government to do for over a decade – temporary foreign workers who come to this country and work hard filling permanent jobs should have a fair and reasonable chance to become a Canadian regardless of the job they are filling.”
· Employers in the agri-food sector who intend to be part of the pilot will be eligible for a 2-year Labour Market Impact Assessment
· Temporary foreign workers will be able to apply under this pilot in early 2020
· A maximum of 2,750 principal applicants, plus family members, will be accepted for processing in any given year. This represents a total of approximately 16,500 possible new permanent residents over the 3-year duration of the pilot
· Addressing these labour market needs will help key industries in Canada’s specialized agri-food sector grow
It remains to be seen how many workers coming in under this program continue in the same field after they get their permanent residency. -CINEWS