As part of the annual meeting, between federal, provincial and territorial agriculture ministers that took place in July, the ministers noted the importance of temporary foreign workers to agriculture and discussed the implications of changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. Provincial and territorial ministers encouraged the federal government to continue discussions to evaluate program changes to meet labour requirements.
In Ontario the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP), which is administered by Foreign Agricultural Resource Management Services (F.A.R.M.S.), has linked approximately 16,000 requests for seasonal workers with jobs at Ontario farms this growing season. Not only does the 49-year-old program provide a long list of benefits to the workers and the farmers, but it also creates two Canadian jobs in the agrifood industry for every worker employed through SAWP at Ontario agricultural operations, says Ken Forth, president of F.A.R.M.S. “Governments and agricultural organizations around the world are looking at this program as a model,” Forth says. “For decades, this program has provided Ontario farmers a steady source of reliable labour as a supplement to local labour. At the same time it gives the seasonal workers well-paying employment, benefits and educational opportunities.”