lobster farms
Lobsters are big business in the Atlantic provinces of Canada, including in Prince Edward Island. Photo by @ndemello

The chase for the Canadian dream continues, with Filipinos moving to Canada to work at lobster farms in Prince Edward Island.

CBC News reported that Canadian employers in the teeny tiny province of Prince Edward Island are becoming more dependent on foreign workers to help with their fishing and agricultural industries.

A few weeks ago, ABS-CBN came out with a story about mushroom pickers in Ontario. The report quickly became viral when their reporter said that mushroom picker jobs pay up to PhP250,000 per month.

Which was true, to a certain extent. What was not mentioned in the widely shared report was that this amount represented full-time work for minimum wage.

The mushroom industry in Canada is worth $1 billion, but suffers from chronic labour shortages, with Canadians refusing to work for such little pay.

Industries like the mushroom industry rely on hiring foreign workers such as Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) from the Philippines to make up for the labour shortfall.

Are you looking for lobster farm jobs in Canada? Best to do your homework first.

lobster farm
Prince Edward Island is one of the Atlantic provinces of Canada. Photo by @princeedwardisland.ca

About Prince Edward Island

Two hours away from Toronto is Prince Edward Island, Canada’s 10th most populated province (population: 142,907).

PEI is one of Canada’s maritime provinces in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, off of the provinces of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.

PEI is a lovely place to visit, and is quite popular with tourists because of its lovely beaches, historic lighthouses and food.

Yes, including lobsters. Mmm lobsters.

Prince Edward Island is known for its lobster industry. While fresh lobsters are available all year round, PEI has two lobster seasons, from May to June and August to October.

When you visit PEI, you can find their famous Island Lobster on menus at restaurants all over the province. If you’re visiting, you can catch your own lobster and have it prepared however which way you’d like. We suggest saltwater lobster with plenty of butter, but that’s just us.

lobster farms
Lobster farms suffer from chronic labour shortages, with Canadian employers seeking authorization from the Government of Canada to hire foreign nationals. Photo by @princeedwardisland.ca

Expectations vs Reality

It’s not all good news though.

The high cost of living and a lack of decent paying jobs are reasons why a lot of Canadians aren’t moving to this province.

While Canadians cite the slower pace of life, low crime rates and welcoming communities as positives, finding a decent paying job is a big negative for those looking for a good work-life balance.

While some Canadians prefer living in provinces where there are better paying jobs, others make it work in PEI.

lobster farms
Royal Star Foods is one of a small number of Canadian employers who seek the Government of Canada’s permission to hire foreign workers. Photo by @googlemaps

Next stop for OFWs: Prince Edward Island

Somebody’s gotta go help process all that lobster after being caught by Canadian fishermen. Guess who gets to do the (minimum wage) job?

Yup, OFWs.

lobster farms
Members of the growing Filipino communityvisit St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Miscouche, PEI. Photo by @letilarosa

Filipinos in Prince Edward Island

There are quite a few Filipino stories with happy endings in PEI.

Take Leilani Corejo, for example.

Last year, CBC News’ Karen Mair paid her a visit at her grocery, Two Brothers Asian Store.

Corejo had come to Canada from the Philippines under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TWFP), and worked in a fish plant.

She previously worked as an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) in Taiwan, where she had also operated a small food store.

Now married with kids, Corejo sells snacks and other food items from the Philippines from her basement.

She’s looking to expand her business, as the number of Filipinos working at fish plants in Tignish, Alberton, O’Leary and Wellington, as well as immigrants from Summerside and Charlottetown continue to grow.

Mair also paid a visit to Leti Larosa in Charlottetown. Larosa was one of the first Filipinos to have moved to PEI over 40 years ago.

According to Larosa, there are now more than 2,000 Filipinos in PEI, mostly working at fish and food plants.

Canadians are amazed at Filipinos sense of community, including Fr. Joseph Dovari, parish priest for the Holy Redeemer Parish. The priest admired the Filipino community’s deep faith and how hard working they were.

CBC News’ Laura Meader also paid a visit to OFWs at Royal Star Foods in Tignish.

Marian Eliot had never worked in the fishing industry prior to arriving in PEI. A relative had suggested she give it a try, and try she did, leaving her child behind in the Philippines.

Meader’s report didn’t indicate if Eliot’s position at Royal Star Foods allowed her to apply for Permanent Residency, but the OFW echoed the wishes of every other OFW in Canada: that she gets to stay and bring the rest of her family to join her in Canada.

Vicente Octavio, another OFW at Royal Star Foods, compares the minimum wage he earns working at the plant “big money” compared to what he would earn back in the Philippines.

Back home, he earned the equivalent of $150 a month. Working minimum wage in PEI, he earns about $2,000 a month.

Like Eliot, Meader did not indicate if Octavio’s position qualifies him to apply for Permanent Residency.

Francis Morrissey of Royal Star Foods said that he is expecting 60 more foreign workers to join them in PEI.

PEI’s negative growth rate is contributing to the difficulty in finding people to work at the plant. Morrissey said that he hopes that new legislation will make hiring foreign workers, including OFWs from the Philippines.

Not all OFWs have a clear pathway to Permanent Residency, opening them to abuse and difficult working conditions.

Actual Job Posting for Lobster Farm Jobs in Canada from the Job Bank

Fish Plant Worker

Posted on March 05, 2018 by Employer details Royal Star Foods Ltd 

Job details

  •  Location Tignish, PE
  •  Salary$12.50 hourly for 35 to 50 hours per week
  •  Vacancies 50 Vacancies
  •  Employment groups: Employment groups Apprentices, Indigenous people,Newcomers to Canada, Persons with disabilities, Seniors,Students, Veterans
  •  Terms of employment Seasonal Full time
  •  Start date As soon as possible
  •  Employment conditions: Day, Evening, Weekend, Overtime, Morning
  •  Job no.865009
  • Source Job Bank

Job requirements

Languages

English

Education

No degree, certificate or diploma

Experience

No experience

Work Conditions and Physical Capabilities
Repetitive tasks; Manual dexterity; Hand-eye co-ordination; Standing for extended periods; Overtime required
Fish And Seafood Plant Cutters And Cleaners Specific Skills
Cut, clean and trim fish or seafood prior to marketing or further processing; Disjoint and remove meat from lobsters or other crustaceans preparatory to canning or further processing
Fish And Seafood Plant Machine Operators Specific Skills
Check products and packaging for defects and to ensure conformance to company standards and perform corrective machine adjustments as required

How to apply

By email:

jobs@royalstarfoods.com

By fax:

902-882-2846

By mail:

175 Judes Point Road
Tignish, PE C0B 2B0

In person:

175 Judes Point Road
Tignish, PE C0B 2B0 Between 08:30 AM and 05:00 PM

Job location:

175 Judes Point Road

Advertised until:

2018-05-11

lobster farms
Leilani Corejo with her husband Jason and their daughter at her basement grocery. Photo by @karenmair

OFWs still at risk in Prince Edward Island

Despite all the success stories you might hear about OFWs and Filipino immigrants in PEI, OFWs in particular are still very much at risk.

The recruitment agency that facilitates the entry of foreign workers is largely unregulated in PEI.

Unlike in the Philippines, where the government oversees the activities of third party representatives (TPR) such as recruitment or placement agencies, pretty much anyone with a printer and an internet connection can be a recruiter.

Most foreign workers, including OFWs, are subject to the rules and regulations of the TFWP, including only working for Canadian employers indicated on their Work Permits.

Most OFWs also come to PEI to work for low-skilled jobs in the fishing and agricultural sectors, most of which do not have pathways to Permanent Residency.

Allegations of abuse and difficult working conditions continue to be reported, ranging from being paid less than the minimum wage to lack of training in the use of industrial equipment.

Pay-to-work stories are also quite common, with OFWs paying thousands of dollars to come to Canada to work in minimum wage jobs.

Advocates and even some employers have been clamouring for change from both the provincial and federal governments, to allow foreign workers such as those who work in the PEI fishing industry to apply for Permanent Residency.

lobster farms
POEA Administrator Bernard Olalia taking questions about overseas employment. Photo by @rmnnews

New POEA rules involve a bit more work in hiring OFWs from the Philippines

Due to widespread reports of abuse of OFWs all across Canada, POEA established new regulations for the deployment of OFWs from the Philippines to Canada.

Before an OFW can be issued an Exit Clearance to leave the Philippines, a Canadian employer must submit documentation to the Philippine Overseas Labour Office (POLO).

The requirements involve partnering with recruitment agencies in both Canada and the Philippines, as well as signing off on legal documents promising that the Canadian employer will shoulder all costs in relation to the OFW’s employment in Canada (including recruitment fees charged by the placement agency in the Philippines and two-way airfare).

Canada is a no placement fee country. POEA currently has no valid job orders for lobster farm jobs in PEI.

Check for valid job orders and recruitment agencies POEA licences at www.poea.gov.ph

lobster farms
The Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program allows Canadian employers to fast track hiring qualified foreign workers to fill permanent positions in their provinces. Photo by @gc

Do you really want to stay in Canada? Don’t go as an OFW

With so many ways to go to Canada, you’re not stuck with just one program. If you’d really like to stay, why not go as a Permanent Resident?

The Atlantic provinces, including Prince Edward Island, are part of the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC)’s Atlantic Immigration Pilot program.

The Atlantic Immigration Pilot allows Canadian employers to address permanent labour shortages with qualified foreign nationals who are interested in living in the Atlantic provinces.

Learn more about Prince Edward Island’s process for the Atlantic Immigration Pilot by clicking on this link: https://www.princeedwardisland.ca/en/topic/atlantic-immigration-pilot


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