Canada faces COVID-19, tries best to solve farmer issues

Canada farms labor shortage

A labor shortage is affecting Canada’s farmers. The shortage is occurring due to travel restrictions owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. Hence, it’s getting very hard to bring in temporary foreign workers in these times.

In fact, Canada has given exemptions from border closures to farmworkers and other temporary workers. But even after they arrive, the 14-day isolation requirements and a lack of flights make it logistically hard to bring in workers.

Closure of many visa offices due to COVID-19 adds woes to the situation. What was once a smooth process of bringing in overseas workers, has now become a tough exercise.

Canada is chartering flights specifically to bring in workers. This is in response to the farmers’ desperation. They must get early-season vegetables planted at the right time. In normal situations, Canada welcomes around 60,000 seasonal agricultural workers annually. This is done through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.

The case with Ottawa demonstrates how Canada needs to make exemptions to ensure food security. Ottawa had closed Canada’s borders to all but essential travel in mid-March. But soon, a shortage of workers occurred. Ottawa had to give exemptions for foreign farmworkers and other food processing workers.

Even though exemptions have been declared, it would not yet make migration normal. The 14-day isolation will delay work. But still, those who are exempt can travel to Canada now. These include:

  • Seasonal agricultural workers, caregivers, fish/seafood workers, and all other temporary foreign workers
  • Permanent resident applicants, approved for permanent residence before the travel restrictions were announced on March 18, 2020, yet to travel to Canada
  • International students holding a valid study permit, or been approved for a study permit when the travel restrictions came into effect on March 18, 2020

A health check will be necessary for those flying to Canada, before boarding their flight. Those having symptoms of COVID-19 won’t be allowed to enter Canada.

For those coming to Canada via the port of entry, there will be health checks. These travelers must follow 14-day quarantine irrespective of their being healthy.

Essential service providers and truck drivers are allowed to cross the border. They maintain the flow of goods and are hence exempt from the isolation requirements.

IRCC has also changed the requirements in the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) for agriculture and food processing workers. They have been waived off the 2-week recruitment period for 6 months.

IRCC has also moved to hike the maximum allowable duration of employment from 1 to 2 years for workers in the low-wage stream of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.

If you are looking to Study, Work, Visit, Invest or Migrate to Canada, talk to Y-Axis, the World’s No.1 Immigration & Visa Company.

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Anshul Singhal

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