New Immigration Pilot Accepting Applications After COVID-19 Delays
In an effort to help fill labour shortages in Canada’s food and agriculture sectors, the federal government has announced the launch of the long-awaited Agri-Food Immigration Pilot.
The program – which provides temporary foreign workers with work experience in the agri-food industry along with the ability to obtain permanent residence in Canada – is already accepting applications as of May 15, in hopes of attracting workers to the meat processing, mushroom and greenhouse production, and livestock-raising industries.
Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is also allowing temporary visa holders who are in Canada working in the sector to apply for permanent residence under the new pilot.
In total, the Agri-Food Immigration Pilot will accept up to 2,750 principal applicants plus their family members every year until 2023.
Those accepted will be able to live and work in any Canadian province except for Quebec, which has its own immigration system. However, Quebec employers will still be able to take part in the pilot through the two-year Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) as long as their workers’ National Occupational Classification (NOC) codes are eligible. The Quebec workers will then be able to apply for permanent residence in Quebec through the Quebec Experience Program (PEQ).
The occupations and industries included in the pilot are:
- Meat product manufacturing including retail and industrial butchers, farm supervisors, and specialized livestock workers
- Food processing labourers including greenhouse, nursery, mushroom, and floriculture production
- Farm supervisors and specialized livestock workers
- General farmworkers
- Harvesting labourers.
- Animal production (excluding aquaculture) but including farm supervisors and specialized livestock workers
- General farmworkers
The pilot has been a long-time coming, as many Canadian agri-food employers have been calling on the federal government to help them recruit and retain the foreign workers to fill widespread labour shortages. In fact, the pilot had been intended to launch at the end of March but was delayed due to the global COVID-19 pandemic and resulting travel restrictions.
“Attracting and retaining talented workers is essential to help grow our economy and improve the living standards of all Canadians,” said Marco Mendicino, Canada’s minister of immigration, in an IRCC press release. “The Agri-Food Pilot will attract applicants for permanent residence who have worked in Canada, who can economically establish in Canada, and who support the labour needs of farmers and processors.”