mushroom pickers
Rosalita Prospero, Consul General for Toronto encourages OFWs looking for work in Canada to first check for valid job orders at the POEA. Photo by @filipinosincanada

The Philippine Consulate General in Toronto, which has jurisdiction over the provinces of Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick as well as Newfoundland and Labrador today issued this advisory warning Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) on alleged job opportunities in Canada as mushroom pickers.

The advisory was issued in response to a news report widely circulated by ABS-CBN claiming that mushroom pickers earned as much as PhP150,000 a month.

The Philippine Consulate encourages Filipinos interested in coming to Canada for employment to go through the proper channels.

Unlike other countries, Canadian employers must first get permission from the Government of Canada to hire foreign workers. Canadian employers can only hire foreign workers for positions which have been identified by the Government of Canada as experiencing an acute labour shortage.

The framework under which foreign workers are allowed to enter Canada is called the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TWFP), which includes many different sub-categories including the now-defunct Live-In Caregiver Program.

Unlike other sub-categories of the TFWP, the now-defunct Live-In Caregiver Program allowed OFWs to apply for Permanent Residency after meeting the minimum requirements of the program.

Low-skilled jobs, such as mushroom pickers in Canada, do not generally qualify for Permanent Residency.

The Philippine Consulate General, through its labour officers at the adjunct Philippine Overseas Labour Office (POLO), has assisted mushroom pickers in the past. Concerns raised by the OFWS who worked at mushroom farms in Ontario included long hours for low pay.

Mushroom pickers in Ontario are generally paid minimum wage, which is currently $14.00 per hour. They are also housed in remote locations, as most farms are far away from city centres.

Mushroom pickers jobs are available all year round. Mushroom pickers salary is usually pegged at minimum wage, which is $14.00 per hour in the province of Ontario

The biggest complaint that OFWs who work in mushroom farms in Canada is that they are unable to apply for Permanent Residency, unlike their counterparts in the now-defunct Live-In Caregiver Program.

Canada’s immigration programs favour immigrants with extensive work and educational experience, which low-skilled foreign workers in the mushroom industry lack.

In a 2017 report, the Toronto Star stated that it costs an estimated $8,470 dollars in recruitment expenses to hire a foreign worker. This includes two way airfare, training and other recruitment related expenses.

Canada’s mushroom industry is worth $1 billion dollars, but suffers from chronic labour shortages. While it needs a stable workforce, low wages keep most Canadians away. Canadian farms have been growing increasingly reliant on foreign workers in the agri-food business.

Half of the country’s mushroom farms are located in the province of Ontario, which is under the jurisdiction of the Philippine Consulate General in Toronto.

Are you an OFW in Canada and you need help? Don’t be afraid to ask. These are the contact numbers and addresses of the POLOs in Canada:

Philippine Overseas Labour Office (POLO) Toronto
160 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 200
Toronto, Ontario M4P 3B5

(416) 975-8252

Philippine Overseas Labour Office (POLO) Vancouver
World Trade Centre Office Complex
999 Canada Place, Suite 611
Vancouver, BC V6C 3E1

(604) 641-1234

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