Glacier FarmMedia COVID-19 & the Farm

Seasonal ag work exempt from new foreign temp rules

A new cap on how long temporary foreign workers can work in Canada before having to return home will not apply to seasonal farm workers.

Changes to the federal Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP), taking effect April 1 and limiting some temporary workers to four years in the country, will not affect Canada’s Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program, the federal government said in a release Thursday.

“We know that the vast majority of employers treat foreign workers with respect and we recognize the importance of temporary foreign workers to employers in certain industries,” St. Catharines, Ont. MP Rick Dykstra, parliamentary secretary for citizenship and immigration, said in the release.

“That’s why we have also identified some workers who will be exempt from the four-year limit, such as workers who come to Canada through the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program and play such a critical role in the harvest across the country.”

The Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program is an international agreement meant to match workers from Mexico and Caribbean countries with Canadian farmers who need temporary support during planting and harvest if qualified Canadians and permanent residents are not available.

Apart from the ag worker program and other exemptions, the changes announced Thursday will require that once a foreign worker under the TFWP has reached his or her four-year “cumulative duration” limit, he or she will not be granted another work permit in Canada for an additional four years.

Changes announced Thursday to the TFWP also include imposing a two-year ineligibility period on employers who “fail to meet their commitments with respect to wages, working conditions and occupation” for their temporary foreign workers.

The changes also call for “a more rigorous assessment of the genuineness of the job offer.”

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