Canada offers a 3-year permanent residence pilot to eligible agri-food workers

Currently, migrant farm workers come to Canada holding a limited-term work permit under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program without any chances to get the PR. In early 2020, the experienced and non-seasonal foreign workers with an eligible job offer in Canada’s agri-foods and agriculture industry will have the opportunity to get the Canadian permanent residence (PR) under the three-year Agri-Food Immigration Pilot.

According to the Government of Canada, although the industry supports 1 in 8 jobs throughout Canada and exported a record $66.2 billion of product in 2018, it is difficult to recruit and retain new employees for certain industries such as meat processing and mushroom production.

The industries and occupations eligible under this new pilot include:

  • harvesting labourer for year-round mushroom production and greenhouse crop production
  • meat processing: retail butcher, industrial butcher, food processing labourer
  • 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

During the three-year duration of the pilot, a maximum of 2,750 principal applicants will be accepted for processing each year. In total, this pilot will welcome around 16,500 new permanent residents and their family members to Canada, said Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

“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,” said Rodger Cuzner, Parliamentary Secretary to Canada’s Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour in the news release.

The eligibility requirements for the Agri-Food Immigration Pilot are:

  • 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;
  • the foreign equivalent of a Canadian high school education or greater;
  • an indeterminate job offer for full-time, non-seasonal work in Canada, outside of Quebec, at or above the prevailing wage.

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 tri-partite 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 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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