In early 2020, an application for permanent residence will be available under the Agri-Food Immigration Pilot for a period of three years, until 2023. This new pilot aims to attract and retain workers by providing them with an opportunity to become permanent residents and filling skill shortages, driving local economies, and creating and supporting middle-class jobs in communities across the country that will benefit all Canadians.
The target industries are particularly in meat processing and mushroom production, within the agri-food sector. The immigration program will seek to attract experienced, non-seasonal workers who can economically establish in Canada, and who support the ongoing labour needs of the agriculture sector. In particular, the permanent residence program will focus on attracting retail butchers, industrial butchers, food processing labourers, harvesting labourers, general farm workers, and farm supervisors and specialized livestock workers.
The occupations and industries eligible under the pilot include:
1. meat processing: retail butcher, industrial butcher, food processing labourer;
2. harvesting labourer for year-round mushroom production and greenhouse crop production
3. general farm worker for year-round mushroom production, greenhouse crop production, or livestock raising
4. farm supervisor and specialized livestock worker for meat processing, year-round mushroom production, greenhouse crop production or livestock raising
- candidates must have 12 months of full-time, non-seasonal Canadian work experience in the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, in an eligible occupation as listed above
- a Canadian Language Benchmark level 4 in English or French (IELTS - general training or CELPIP - general English test or eligible French test)
- high school level education or higher proven through an academic equivalency report (ECA)
- a permanent job offer for full-time, non-seasonal work in Canada, outside of the province of Quebec, at or above the prevailing wage
There are also changes in the LMIA process that will benefit meat processor employers who are supporting temporary foreign workers in transitioning to permanent residence. They are as follows:
- A 2-year Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) will be issued to eligible meat processor employers, including employers who are using the Agri-Food Immigration Pilot or other existing pathways to permanent residence for temporary foreign workers in these occupations and industries.
- To be eligible, meat processors will be required to outline their plans to support their temporary foreign worker in obtaining permanent residency. Unionized meat processors will require a letter of support from their union. Additional requirements will have to be met by non-unionized employers.
- Adjustments will also be made to the limit (“cap”) on low-wage positions which is very positive news for agri employers who had to reduce the amount of foreign workers to 10% or less of their total Canadian workforce since June 20, 2014.
- Employers who have a recent history of recruiting workers who have made the transition to permanent residence could be eligible to be excluded from the limit calculation, a number of workers roughly equal to the number who are likely to achieve permanent residence in the near term.
- A cap of 2,750 principal applicants plus their family members per year will be accepted meaning eligible participants must act quickly to apply prior to the cap being filled. Approximately 16,500 possible new permanent residents until 2023 may benefit.
- These are monumental changes that will benefit thousands of people interested in immigrating to Canada but who do not have financial means or want to become entrepreneurs or self-employed in the agriculture field
Both employers and foreign workers will benefit from this new program when it opens in early 2020 for application intake. The employers may be able to hire more then 10% foreign workers and the workers will have a guaranteed opportunity to become permanent residents in Canada. The language and work experience requirements are very minimal and a worker coming on a two year work permit could may have a chance to complete their PR process prior to the expiry of their original work permit.