The Government of Canada has announced a new pilot program designed to give foreign farmers a new path towards Permanent Residency, including those working at meat packing plants and mushroom farms.
MEAT PACKERS AND MUSHROOM FARMS WORKERS ELIGIBLE
Canadian meat processing plants and mushroom farms have long been reliant on foreign workers, being unable to find workers locally.
Foreign workers working at meat processing plants and mushroom farms currently do not have a way to apply for Permanent Residency. They have to go back to their countries of origin after their contracts have been completed.
Foreign workers who are eligible for the new pilot program will be eligible to apply for Permanent Residency after 12 months of work, and if approved, will be allowed to sponsor their families to join them in Canada.
Canadian employers have applauded the Government of Canada’s efforts at addressing the chronic labour shortage their industries suffer from.
MEAT PACKING AND MUSHROOM FARMS INDUSTRIES STILL SUFFER FROM LABOUR SHORTAGE
Industry groups have claimed that farmers across Canada have lost a total of $2.9 billion in sales because of the labour shortages. They say that although things have improved because of the increase in the number of foreign workers and new farming technologies, there are still over 16,500 positions that need to be filled.
Mushroom farmers are happy that the Government of Canada is making changes to their immigration policies, saying that it will definitely help.
The Canadian Mushroom Growers Association vice president Ryan Koeslag, spoke to CTV News. “For the last decade or more, mushroom growers and other farmers, have fought for immigration access for our sector’s farm workers employed in year-round jobs,” he said.
FOREIGN WORKER ADVOCATES EXPRESS CONCERN
Not everyone is happy with the changes. Justice for Migrant Workers Chris Ramsaroop expressed concern, saying that only those who are eligible in this particular pilot program will be able to apply for Permanent Residency.
Ramsaroop said that there will still be thousands of foreign workers working at meat processing plants and mushroom farms who will not be able to apply for Permanent Residency.
“We’re dividing agricultural workers based on which industries are more deserving than others,” Ramsaroop told CTV News.
Ramsaroop said that advocates will continue to push the Government fo Canada to grant Permanent Residency to all foreign workers upon arrival to Canada.
NEW PILOT PROGRAM LIMITED TO 2,750 FOREIGN WORKERS
Only 2,750 foreign workers will be able to apply for Permanent Residency under the pilot program.
The pilot program will be available for three years, with applications being accepted starting in 2020.
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