Canada Launches New Agri-Food Immigration Pilot Program

Canada have now started receiving applications for the Agri-Food Immigration Pilot Program. The pilot program is intended to address the labour needs of Canadian employers in the mushroom, meat processing, and greenhouse production, and livestock-raising sectors.

Temporary visa holders who are already living in Canada working in these fields will be able to apply for Canadian permanent residence under the new pilot program.

Canada’s Immigration Ministry (IRCC) will admit up to 2,750 principal applicants with their family members annually for the next three years under the pilot program. Applications are being welcomed from now until May 14, 2023, according to an IRCC news release.

Canadian employers in the agri-food industry have been calling on the federal government to assist them recruit and retain the workforce they need to operate. The program’s intended launch date was supposed to be at the beginning of March but was delayed due to the global COVID- pandemic. It provides an option for temporary foreign workers (TFWs) with agri-food work experience to obtain Canadian permanent residence.

The Agri-Food Immigration Pilot program does not include the Quebec province, which has its own immigration system. However, Quebec employers who employ non-seasonal temporary foreign worker can benefit from the two-year Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) that is included in the pilot, as long as the worker’s National Occupational Classification (NOC) code is eligible. They can then apply for a permanent selection from Quebec province through the Quebec Experience Program (PEQ).

The occupations and industries eligible under the pilot program include:

  • Meat product manufacturing: Retail butchers; Industrial butcher; Farm supervisors and specialized livestock worker; and Food processing labourers.
  • Greenhouse, nursery and floriculture production, including mushroom productions: Farm supervisors and specialized livestock worker; General farm workers; and Harvesting laborers.
  • Animal production excluding aquaculture: Farm supervisor and specialized livestock worker; and General farm workers.

The agriculture and agri-food industry supports one (1) in eight (8) jobs across the country. In 2019, agriculture exports hit a record $67 billion.

“Attracting and retaining talented workers is essential to help grow our economy and improve the living standards of all Canadians,” the Canada’s minister of immigration, Marco Mendicino, said in the release. “The Agri-Food Pilot will draw applicants for Canada permanent residence who have worked in Canada, who can economically establish in Canada, and who support the labor priorities of farmers and processors.”