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Green and Spiegel - An Immigration Law Firm
May 16, 2020

The New Agri-Food Pilot Program

Joshua Green

Amid all of the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 and Canadian immigration, the Government of Canada has announced a new Agri-Food Pilot program that aims to bolster the agri-food sector by providing a mechanism to hire temporary foreign workers in order to combat labour and skill shortages within the sector. This program was implemented May 15, 2020 in Canada outside of Quebec. 

Overview of the Program

The pilot program is  a 3-year test that will assist employers in the agri-food sector to counteract the labour and skill shortages that the Canadian agri-food sector constantly battles by creating a path to permanent residence for temporary foreign workers already in Canada. The program will allow agricultural employers to hire these temporary foreign workers where Canadian workers are either not available or do not have the proper skillset to perform the job requirements, thus the program will not impact the job prospects of Canadians.

Eligible Industries

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (“IRCC”) has determined the occupations and industries eligible under the Agri-Food Pilot Program. Meat product manufacturing includes retail butchers, industrial butchers, farm supervisors and specialized livestock workers, and food processing labourers. Greenhouse[ED1] , nursery and floriculture production (including mushroom production) includes farm supervisors and specialized workers, general farm workers, and harvest labourers. While Animal production (excluding aquaculture) includes farm supervisors and specialized livestock workers, and general farm workers.

Eligible Applicants

To be eligible for this program, applicants must have work experience, a job offer, meet the language requirements, meet the educational requirements, have enough funding to settle in Canada, and if they are already in Canada, have maintained their temporary resident status.

Potential applicants will be assessed against the above selection criteria and the strongest scoring candidates will be chosen to participate in the program.

Work Experience

Eligible Canadian work experience must meet 3 requirements. Firstly, the Canadian work experience must be a at least 1 year of non-season full time work in the past 3 years. Secondly, the work must be in one or more of the eligible occupations listed. Lastly, the Canadian work experience must be through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.

Job Offer

The applicant must also have a job offer under one of the eligible occupations, that is fulltime (30 hours per week), non-seasonal, permanent, and outside of Quebec. For unionized positions, the wage must be determined by the collective agreement, and for non-unionized positions, wages must meet or exceed the prevailing median wage for the occupation in the applicable province.

Language Requirements

Applicants must also meet either English or French requirements. Prospective applicants must have a minimum Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) score of level 4 in reading, writing, speaking, and listening.

Educational Requirements

Applicants must have either a Canadian high school diploma, or the equivalent of a Canadian high school diploma from outside Canada that is recognized by an educational credential assessment (ECA).

Settlement Funds

Applicants must prove to IRCC they have enough money to be able to settle in Canada. This funding must be enough for the applicant to support themselves and any additional family members whether or not they are accompanying the main applicant in Canada. Note that applicants will not need to prove they have sufficient settlement funding should they already have a valid work permit when they apply.

Remarks from our Ministers

The Minister of IRCC, The Honourable Marco E. L. Mendicino, stated that “it’s very important that we support our farmers and food processors to make sure they have the workers they need to help strengthen Canada’s food security. Attracting and retaining talented workers is essential to help grow our economy and improve the living standards of all Canadians[ED2] .”

While the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food said “this pilot provides an important path to permanent residency to these experienced workers, whom we rely on to feed our country and help grow our economy”

Both of these statements  summarize the goals and objectives of the program: support the Canadian agri-food sector and support Canada as a whole. This sector is particularly vital to Canada’s economy, as 1 in 8 jobs across Canada are supported by the agri-food industry. The stronger the agri-food sector is, the more job opportunities will be presented to Canadians.

If you have any questions regarding the new APi-Food Pilot Program, please contact us.


 [ED1]Eligible industries should be listed all together

 [ED2]Correct apostrophe, none needed…maybe mistake is in quote… fix it pls.

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