Agri-food Pilot Program

Agri-food Pilot Program

September 29, 2019

What is the Agri-food pilot program? 

Agri-food pilot program which is a new pathway to Canadian permanent residence is a mutual collaboration between Agriculture and Agri-food Canada and Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC). Agri-food industry is known as a significant part of the Canadian economy and contributes to the country’s gross domestic product over $110 billion per year. Besides, agricultural exports hit a new record in 2018, reaching $66.2 billion.

1. When does this program start?

On 12 July 2019, the Government of Canada announced a new three-year pilot migration program for the Agri-Food Industry. More information will be published in early 2020 on this new program. Therefore, you need to keep an eye on the Government of Canada website for more details.

The Government of Canada has introduced the three-year Agri-Food Immigration Pilot to provide eligible temporary foreign workers in the sector with a route to Canada’s permanent residence in order to attract and maintain the employees needed to support and increase this output. This program, especially for meat and mushroom production, focuses primarily on the lack of qualified employees.

2. The number of immigration

Agri-food pilot program is governed by the legislation on immigration and refugees. Under which the number is limited to permanent residency applicants for this visa category (the so-called PR). For the first three years of the beginning of the program, the government is interested in having 2 750 immigrants each year. A total of 16,500 places are available for family members.

3. Its benefits

Migrant farmworkers who are coming to Canada for seasonal agricultural workers through their Temporary Foreign Worker Program are currently receiving a limited term of employment and no permanent residency. Because of this reason, with permanent resident status, overseas employees would have access to more of the social programs that support to pay through taxation, such as employment insurance and the Canadian Pension Plan. With the pilot for agrifood immigration, more employees can plan for a long-term settlement in Canada than a temporary stay with little or no hope of a permanent settlement.

Why is the Agri-food pilot launched?

At present, a large number of Canadian farm workers rely on temporary employees hired by TFW (Temporary Foreign Workers Program (SAWP). The issue is that SAWP workers are issued a limited period of employment and have no permanent residence path in Canada.

For that reason, the government decided to launch this program with the purpose is to help the agri-food sector to bring in non-season, full-time foreign workers to fill growing labor shortages. This new pilot seeks to attract and retain workers by giving them the opportunity for a temporary work permit, rather than renew their work permits repeatedly, to become permanent residents after a two-year initial term.

To meet the requirements of meet processing and mushroom production, the Agri-Food Immigration Pilot will test a new, industry-specific strategy. Although the agricultural migration sector is primarily based on seasonal workers, this pilot seeks, by testing a new route to the lasting residence, to enhance the benefits of economic immigration for the agricultural sector.

The pilot aims to attract experienced, non-seasonal workers who can establish themselves in Canada economically and who support ongoing labor requirements of the agri-food industry. Particularly, this program will concentrate in particular on attracting retail butchers, industrial butchers, processors, laborers, general farm workers, and farm supervisors.

Why Canada need such workers?

The Canadian meat council has already indicated that it has space annually for nearly 1700 employees, including butchers and meat cutters. In all 11 provinces of Canada, this pilot program can, therefore, help to find ways to reside for butchers. The agri-food sector, for its part, is in need of nearly 114,000 employees until 2025 (2014 report). This program helps agricultural farmers to have employees available throughout the year, the Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) has stated. “Mr.Robinson,” said farm labor in Canada was a limiting factor. Even 26,400 job losses causing Canada to lose 1.5 trillion dollars were unfulfilled in 2014.

Eligible Occupations

As per the Government of Canada website, these are the occupations and industries eligible under the pilot:

  • Meat processing includes:
    • Retail butcher
    • Industrial butcher
    • Food processing laborer
  • Harvesting laborer 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.

Eligibility requirements

In order to consider Canadian permanent residence under the Agri-Food Immigration Pilot, applicants with professional experience in the above-mentioned occupations must also meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • 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
  • an English proficiency level of CLB 4 (General IELTS test score of 4.0)
  • an education at the 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

Most of these sectors come from the NOC category ‘C’ and ‘D’ which require workers to have a type of ‘Secondary School certificate’ with related work experience. 

Two-year LMIA for employers

A two-year labor market impact assessment will be available for employers in the agri-food sector who are planning to participate in a pilot.

In addition to the pilot, Employment and Social Development Canada introduce amendments to support temporary foreign workers in the transition to a permanent residence by employers in processors:

  • A two-year Labor Market Impact Assessment will be issued for eligible employers of meat processors, including employers using the Agri-Food Immigration Pilot or other existing permanent residential routes for temporary foreign workers who may be employed in the same occupations and industries.
  • To meet the requirements, meat processors must outline their plans to assist their temporary foreign employees in the acquisition of permanent residency. Besides, syndicated meat processors require their union’s letter of support.
  • Additional requirements for the protection of the labor market and migrant workforce will be met by non-unionized meat processors. To develop these requirements, a tripartite working group will be set up immediately.
  • Adjustments are also made to the method of calculating the “cap” for low-wage foreign temporary workers, concerning employers ‘ efforts to assist workers in obtaining permanent residence.
  • Employers with a recent track record of employee recruitment who have made a move into permanent residence can qualify for the exclusion, roughly equivalent to the number of employees likely to have permanent residence in the short term.

How to apply for Canada’s agri-food pilot?

Details about individuals applying through this pilot to permanent residence will be available in early 2020 and any updates will be published on the Canada government website.

Agri-Food industry immigration pilot provides more security

The old seasonal worker program was not so good as the owners exploited the workers by paying them downwards and having them spend extra hours working. The workers could not only give up their work in the face of these problems, and if they do, they will be deprived of Canada. The employees will be allowed to benefit from Employment Insurance and the Canadian Pension Plan under this new pilot program. This would enable taxation to provide many social benefits.


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