Federal funding to help hire foreign farm workers

The federal government has provided funds to help determine the best practices for recruiting and retaining international workers for the agriculture sector.

Announced Jan. 24, an investment up to $279,223 goes to the Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council (CAHRC) to develop and deliver communications and training products for employers, “including guides, website content, webinar and workshop training materials and promotional materials,” said a news release about the funding.

“Research has shown that each international worker who is hired, following a stringent process to ensure qualified Canadian workers do not wish to apply, results in two to four full-time Canadian agriculture related jobs up and down the agri-food supply chain,” the release said.

The agriculture sector employed about 2.3 million people in 2017 and contributes about $304 million per day to the Canadian economy.

Jati Sidhu, a British Columbia MP who announced the funds on behalf of federal Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay, noted the labour shortage that has plagued the industry in recent years.

“Canada’s agricultural sector faces significant labour shortages, with over half of the work being seasonal and in rural areas with lower populations. Reliable access to labour is critical for this sector to ensure both continued food production and job creation across British Columbia and all of Canada,” Sidhu said.

CAHRC executive director Portia MacDonald-Dewhirst said farm employers put time and effort into learning the rules for hiring international workers. Providing more easily accessed information will help those employers and safeguard the workers.

The funding comes through the Canadian Agricultural Adaptation Program, a five-year, $50 million program designed to help the agriculture industry respond to new or emerging issues.

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