Work in Canada
IRCC to Extend its Agri-Food Immigration Pilot Program until 2025
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has recently announced the extension of its Agri-Food Immigration Pilot program, which aims to strengthen the Canadian agricultural sector. This extension comes alongside the uplifting of the occupational cap, which will open up new opportunities for skilled workers seeking to contribute to Canada’s thriving Agri-food industry.
Clearly, the new initiative by IRCC signifies the Canadian government’s strong commitment to attracting and retaining more talented individuals in the agriculture sector.
Background and Objectives of the Agri-Food Immigration Pilot Program
Launched in 2020, the Agri-Food Immigration Pilot was designed to address labor shortages faced by employers in the agri-food industry. This pilot program facilitated the hiring of foreign workers in various agricultural occupations, allowing employers to meet their labor needs effectively.
Now, with the extension of this program, the government seeks to provide a streamlined pathway for foreign workers to contribute to the Canadian agri-food sector. Thus, Immigration Minister Sean Fraser said that the Agri-Food Pilot Program will now be in operation until May 14, 2025. Additionally, the Minister declared the removal of the yearly occupational caps. This will give more qualified people a chance to apply.
IRCC’s key Adjustments to the Program
- Increasing open work permit access for family members of pilot program participants regardless of the candidates’ degree of employment competence
- Permitting unions to serve as an alternative to employer reference letters and attest to a candidate’s work history
- The program will begin accepting work experience earned under an open work permit for vulnerable workers.
- Residents of Canada will have the choice of meeting the education criteria or the job offer requirement, which includes the median income requirement for the offer.
Eligible Occupations For the Program
The following occupations and industries are eligible under the pilot program
- Meat product manufacturing Industry includes Retail butchers, Industrial butchers, Farm supervisors and specialized livestock workers, and Food processing labourers;
- Greenhouse, nursery and floriculture and mushroom production includes Farm supervisors and specialized livestock workers, General farm workers, and Harvesting labourers.
- Animal production excluding aquaculture includes Farm supervisors and specialized livestock workers, and General farm workers.
According to recent statistics on job openings from February 2023, more than 243,000 Canadians are working in the agriculture, hunting, fishing, and forestry sector. while there are more than 14,000 open positions.
The COVID-19 pandemic, which led to factory closures, market volatility, and supply chain delays, had a significant negative impact on the sector. However, the Agri-Food Immigration Pilot Program’s continuation and the lowering of the occupational cap demonstrate the Canadian government’s dedication to the expansion and development of the nation’s agri-food sector.