New Agri-Food Immigration Pilot in Canada: Attracting workers to the agri-food sector across Canada


July 12, 2019 – Mississauga – Canada is committed to attracting the best talent from around the world to fill skill shortages, drive local economies, and create and support middle-class jobs in communities across the country that will benefit all Canadians.
Canada is launching a new 3-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 agriculture and agri-food industry is an important contributor 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.
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.


Quotes
“This pilot is another example of how immigration is helping to grow local economies and creating jobs for Canadians.”
– The Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship
“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.”
– The Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food
“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.”
– The Honourable Bernadette Jordan, Minister of Rural Economic Development
“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.”
– Rodger Cuzner, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development, and Labour
Quick facts
  • 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.
The Agri-Food Immigration Pilot will test a new, industry-specific approach to help address the labour needs of the Canadian agri-food sector, particularly in meat processing and mushroom production.
While immigration in the agricultural sector is largely based on seasonal workers, this pilot aims to enhance the benefits of economic immigration to the agri-food sector by testing a new pathway to permanent residence.
The pilot will seek to attract experienced, non-seasonal workers who can economically establish in Canada, and who support the ongoing labour needs of the agri-food sector.
In particular, the pilot will focus on attracting retail butchers, industrial butchers, food processing labourers, harvesting labourers, general farm workers, and farm supervisors and specialized livestock workers.
The occupations and industries eligible under the pilot include:
  • meat processing
    • retail butcher
    • industrial butcher
    • food processing labourer
  • harvesting labourer for year-round mushroom production and greenhouse crop production
  • general farm worker for year-round mushroom production, greenhouse crop production, or livestock raising
  • farm supervisor and specialized livestock worker for meat processing, year-round mushroom production, greenhouse crop production or livestock raising.
To be eligible to participate in the pilot, candidates must have:
  • 12 months of full-time, non-seasonal Canadian work experience in the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, in an eligible occupation in processing meat products, raising livestock, or growing mushrooms or greenhouse crops
  • a Canadian Language Benchmark level 4 in English or French
  • an education at high school level or greater (Canadian equivalency)
  • an indeterminate job offer for full-time, non-seasonal work in Canada, outside of Quebec, at or above the prevailing wage
Details on how individuals may apply for permanent residence through this pilot will be available in early 2020.
To complement the pilot, Employment and Social Development Canada is introducing changes that will benefit meat processor employers who are supporting temporary foreign workers in transitioning to permanent residence:
  • A 2-year Labour Market Impact Assessment will be issued to eligible meat processor employers, including employers who are using the Agri-Food Immigration Pilot or other existing pathways to permanent residence for temporary foreign workers in the same occupations and industries that are eligible for the pilot.
  • To be eligible, meat processors will be required to outline their plans to support their temporary foreign worker in obtaining permanent residency. Furthermore, unionized meat processors will require a letter of support from their union.
  • Non-unionized meat processors will have to meet additional requirements to ensure the labour market and migrant workers are protected. A tripartite working group will be formed immediately to develop these requirements.
  • Adjustments will also be made to the way the limit (“cap”) on low-wage temporary foreign workers is calculated, taking into account efforts made by employers to help workers obtain permanent residence.
  • Employers who have a recent history of recruiting workers who have made the transition to the permanent residence could be eligible to be excluded from the limit calculation, a number of workers roughly equal to the number who are likely to achieve permanent residence in the near term.

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