Labour

Farmer relaxes with his crew

Photo courtesy of The Grower (www.thegrower.org)

Labour has a major impact on Canadian fruit and vegetable production. Without an adequate workforce to grow and harvest it, produce rots in the field, on the tree, or on the vine, resulting in waste and financial loss.

Canadian producers search for workers domestically first. When they are unable to find enough Canadian workers, they access the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) and the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP). As challenges arise in the use of these programs, the Canadian Horticultural Council (CHC) works with various government departments, including Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, Employment and Social Development Canada, and Agriculture and Agri-food Canada, to remove or lessen obstacles.

CHC's position

  • CHC urges the Government of Canada to implement a Trusted Employers Program to help streamline and standardize the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) application process, as per the HUMA Committee report.
  • CHC urges the Government of Canada to recognize the success and importance of the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program and to ensure that Canadian horticultural producers continue to have access to it.

Current advocacy activities

  • CHC continues to advocate for the streamlining of processes that would allow a farmer to quickly hire a replacement worker when a temporary foreign worker cannot complete their contract, including the option of efficiently transferring workers between farms.

Previous advocacy activities

  • In August 2017, CHC and the Canadian Agricultural Human Resources Council (CAHRC) organized a farm tour for several federal departments. Government officials were able to observe the SAWP in action on 12 different farms of their choosing. Tour participants reported that there was no evidence of abuse of workers, unacceptable housing, denied health care or deprivation of human rights, contrary to what some activist groups believe.
  • In November 2016, CHC discussed labour issues with Ministers, MPs, and their staff, during meetings with nearly 60 Members of Parliament as part of Fall Harvest 2016.

Responsible committee

CHC’s Labour Committee works on behalf of CHC to monitor labour issues for the Canadian horticulture industry. The shortage of farm labour, especially in peak season, is one of the most pressing issues facing agricultural producers in Canada.

For more information, please contact Jennifer Babcock, Policy Research and Development Manager at jbabcock@hortcouncil.ca.

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