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 hire Canadians first and conduct ongoing and vigorous recruitment. However, because agricultural jobs are generally located in rural communities and are seasonal in nature, it is nearly impossible to hire Canadians who generally prefer year-round work and who are concentrated in urban centres. When producers are unable to find enough Canadian workers, they access the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP), or the Agricultural (Ag) Stream of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) to satisfy their labour needs.
- 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
- Awareness campaign on international farm workers
- 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 November 2017, CHC submitted comments to ESDC’s Primary Agriculture Review on behalf of its members and we will continue to be very involved as the review process continues.
- In November 2017, CHC and the Canadian Produce Marketing Association (CPMA) lobbied the federal government during meetings with Members of Parliament and Senators. The meetings were held as part of the two organizations’ annual Fall Harvest advocacy event.
- 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.
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 Rebecca Lee, Executive Director at firstname.lastname@example.org.