Foreign worker changes don’t apply to farm program

I would like to provide some clarifications in response to the article by Dr. Sylvain Charlebois, published in your Saturday, March 7, edition (How Ottawa bungled the TFW program).

I would like to provide some clarifications in response to the article by Dr. Sylvain Charlebois, published in your Saturday, March 7, edition (How Ottawa bungled the TFW program).

The government reformed the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) to ensure that employers put Canadian workers first.

Canadians must always be first in line for available jobs, however most of these reforms do not apply to on-farm primary agriculture, including the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program (SAWP) because the federal government recognizes that there are proven acute labour shortages in the agriculture sector.

Contrary to your article, Canadian farmers remain exempt from many of the changes, including the application fee and the cap on low-wage workers. There is also an exception for the SAWP with regards to the “four-year rule.” If a foreign worker has already worked in Canada for four years but is seeking a work permit under the SAWP, the application can be approved.

In most cases, farmers will not see any change to their access to the program. They will continue to be able to hire the foreign workers that depend on seasonal work in Canada to support their families. In fact, more than 70 per cent of participating workers return annually.

Alexis Conrad

Director General

Temporary Foreign Worker Program

Ottawa