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Canada Announces New Agri-Food Pilot in Budget 2019

The release of Canada’s federal budget on March 19th revealed plans to introduce a new immigration pathway for agri-food workers in Canada. Although Immigration, Refugees, Citizenship Canada have not yet released details about the pilot, the federal budget for 2019 includes funds for a program to help full-time workers in the Agricultural and food sector have a pathway to permanent resident status in Canada.

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“To help the agri-food sector meet Canada’s ambitious export targets and attract and retain needed labour, the federal government will launch a three-year immigration pilot to bring in full-time, non-seasonal agricultural workers that will include a pathway to permanent residency.” Canadian Federal Budget, Page 163

The pilot seeks to attract non-seasonal foreign agricultural workers to the country’s agri-food industry. Instead of encouraging repeated work permit renewals for seasonal workers with temporary status, the pilot would ensure a route to permanent residence.

Officials hope that the pilot will revitalize the agricultural labour force in Canada, which has struggled to address job vacancies in recent years. A recent report from the Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council states that 26,400 agricultural jobs remain unfilled since 2014, a number predicted to double by 2025.

The agri-food worker pilot would be the third of its kind recently introduced as a pathway to economic immigration, and follows a similar design to both of its predecessors: the Atlantic Immigration Pilot and The Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot.

The Atlantic Immigration Pilot

Established in 2017, serves the four Atlantic provinces of Canada: Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. The AIP is employer-driven, and all applicants must hold a job offer from a designated Atlantic employer in order to be eligible. Although slow to start, the AIP has seen recent success, and has been extended to continue over the coming year.

The Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot

Launched on January 24th of this year, was inspired by the AIP and its success. This pilot seeks to attract and retain new immigrants to areas outside of the major city centers. Rural and northern communities must apply to participate in the pilot. If a community is accepted, the program will then target newcomers who will positively benefit the economy of the community. Currently the pilot is accepting applications only from communities wishing to be involved.

As the Canadian government works to encourage skilled migration to Canada, and to ensure lasting integration of skilled workers into the Canadian economy, we can expect more routes to Canadian permanent residence to open. The goal of accepting more than one million newcomers in the next three years signals this government’s intention to continue to be more innovative and efficient in immigration processing in the coming months.

 

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