The COVID-19 pandemic has severely disrupted the global economy. Canada and the U.S. have implemented bans on non-essential travel and this is being extended until the end of July.

Having the borders shut for all these months, undoubtedly affects Canada’s food supply, so in n efforts to safeguard the continuous flow of Canada’s food supply and health security as well as trade and commerce, Canada has made a push for employers to hire essential workers to maintain this.

Programs to Support Agricultural Workers:

  1. Canada introduced the Agricultural Stream Temporary Foreign Worker Program administered through Employment Services Development Canada
  2. Exemptions Biometrics
  3. Permanent Residence Programs – Pilot and Provincial Programs, minimum requirements are typically a Job Offer, Prior Work Experience in the PNP Province, lower IELTS 4 and minimum High School

Expedited Work Permits through Agricultural Stream

The Agricultural Stream allows employers to hire Temporary Foreign Workers (TFWs) for a maximum period of up to 24 months when Canadians and permanent residents are not available, which will be approved within 14 days.

To qualify for this stream, employers must meet 2 criteria:

  1. production must be in specific commodity sectors, and
  2. the activity must be related to on-farm primary agriculture

Effective March 20, 2020, the program is offering priority processing of occupations related to agriculture, food processing and trucking.

As of June 10, 2020, Transport Truck Drivers must now comply with the minimum recruitment requirements. Under the previous March 20th, 2020 notice, Transport Truck Drivers were included in the list of occupations that were waived from the advertising requirements.

Waiver of recruitment requirements for these positions until October 31, 2020. There is a waiver of recruitment requirements that applies to pending and future Labour Market Impact Assessments for the following 9 key occupations:

  1. 6331- Butchers, meat cutters and fishmongers-retail and wholesale
  2. 8252- Agricultural service contractors, farm supervisors and specialized livestock workers
  3. 8431- General Farm Workers
  4. 8432- Nursery and Greenhouse Workers
  5. 8611- Harvesting labourers
  6. 9463- Fish and seafood plant workers
  7. 9617- Labourers in food, beverage and associated products processing
  8. 9618- Labourers in fish and seafood processing
  9. 9462- Industrial butchers and meat cutters, poultry preparers and related workers

Temporary Public Policy Exempting Essential Workers from Giving Biometrics Overseas

IRCCannounced a new public policy on June 5, 2020to temporarily exempt foreign workers in certain essential service sectors, from having to provide biometrics before coming to Canada, if their closest biometrics site is closed.

The essential services sectors include Agricultural Workers:

  • Agriculture
  • Agri-food
  • Health-care sectors
  • Trucking

Canada recognizes the importance oftemporary foreign workers and their key role in helping to safeguard the continuity of Canada’s economy. Due to the ongoing service disruptions related to COVID-19, enter Canada because they are not able to comply with all requirements.

While some temporary foreign workers in essential occupations coming to Canada have already given their biometrics, some exempt workers, such as seasonal agricultural workers, will now be giving their biometrics on arrival at Canadian ports of entry (POEs). IRCC indicates that they will continue to perform security checks to ensure the safety and security of all Canadians.

Foreign Nationals Arriving by Air

Foreign nationals entering Canadamust have in place the following:

  • Ensure that they have a Quarantine Plan
  • Include a place to stay where there is no contact with vulnerable individuals for 14 days upon arrival in Canada.

The requirement is mandatory under the Quarantine Act and anyone who fails to follow their plan, will face serious consequences, such as:

  • fine up to $750,000
  • 6 months in jail
  • inadmissibility and 1-year ban from Canada.
  • Any employer who is responsible for housing their workers under an immigration plan, including, some agricultural employers, they are required to provide adequate accommodations that allow workers to quarantine.

Foreign Nationals Arriving by Port of Entry (POE)

Any temporary foreign workers who is entering Canada from a POE, may be asked to provide biometrics at a POE in Canada.

Workers must also prove they are entering Canada for “essential purposes”. This includes:

  • Quarantine plan
  • A letter of introduction for a work permit AND
  • A valid job offerto start employment after the 14- day quarantine period.

Health screening measures will be implemented as precaution.

Applications Will Not Be Denied or Closed

IRCC has indicated that ALL applications in progress, even those not covered under the new policy, will not denied:

  • Should the Visa Application Centres (VACs) or other Biometrics Collection Sites in your home country or region remain closed,
  • If your biometric instruction letter (BIL) says that your deadline is 30 or 90 days.
  • Biometrics will not be required until the biometrics collection sites re-open.

You must check online to see when the VAC and other biometrics collection sites start to re-open and once they do, you should complete the steps, including making a biometrics appointment, as soon as possible to avoid further delays.

Applying for Permanent Residence as an Agricultural Worker under Pilot or Provincial Nomination Program (PNP)

Agricultural Workers have a wide range of opportunities to apply for Permanent Residency in Canada

  1. Agri-Food Pilot Program – There is a list of eligible occupations. Began Accepting Applications on May 15th and will run through to May 2023
  2. Atlantic Immigrant Pilot Program – Intermediate Skilled Worker (Many agri-food occupations); Eligible to Apply for Work Permit
  3. Rural Northern Immigration Pilot –Each community has its own job search process and many job listings include Agricultural sector jobs
  4. Regional Immigration Pilot Program
  5. Ontario Immigration Nominee Program – In Demand Skills
  6. Alberta PNP – Alberta Opportunity Stream
  7. Saskatchewan PNP –International Skilled Worker Occupations in Demand / Employment Offer
  8. Manitoba PNP – Skilled Worker Overseas (previous work in Manitoba)
  9. New Brunswick PNP – Skilled Worker Overseas – Job Offer in NB

Currently, the demand workers in the agri-food sector is very high, this is the best time to look for jobs in these industries if you have prior experience in any of the priority occupations.

If you have experience in one of the Agricultural sectors, or experience in one of the 9 occupations listed, please contact us for further information regarding your chance to work or live in Canada.