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Immigration looked at for ag jobs

If one were to believe social media these days, which might be folly but many seem to, immigration is an issue for many.

If one were to believe social media these days, which might be folly but many seem to, immigration is an issue for many.

There is a definite backlash at least in some sectors to immigration these days, although it does seem the concern is focused more on country or origin and religious background, than the broader issue of general immigration of which almost all of us owe our existence here.

But, immigration remains important to this country, and in particular to the agriculture sector.

Over the past several years, industries such as meat processing and mushroom production have experienced ongoing difficulty in finding and keeping new employees, notes a recent Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) release.

This is not a new thing. It was not so many years ago that Heartland Livestock in Yorkton was in the news locally for bringing in staff from Mexico to fill spots that they could not find anyone in this country to take on.

Immigration remains an important avenue to filling job vacancies.

The Canadian government announced last week that it is “launching a new three-year economic immigration pilot that will fill labour shortages, particularly in meat processing and mushroom production within the agri-food sector, and help meet Canada’s ambitious export targets,” stated the release.

As noted in the release, “agriculture and agri-food industry is an important contributor to Canada’s economic growth and vitality, supporting one-in-eight jobs across the country. Agricultural exports hit a new record in 2018, reaching $66.2 billion.”

So having access to staff to keep the wheels of the agriculture sector is important, and if Canadians aren’t lining up to fill job vacancies then the next generation of new Canadians is the only logical answer.

“The success of our Canadian farmers and food processors depends on their ability to recruit and retain the workforce they need to capture opportunities at home and abroad. This pilot will help to ensure that employers in the agriculture and agri-food sector have the people they need to get the job done, to help drive our economy and to feed the world,” said the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food in the release.

Under the pilot program employers in the agri-food sector who intend to be part of the pilot will be eligible for a two-year Labour Market Impact Assessment.

A maximum of 2,750 principal applicants, plus family members, will be accepted for processing in any given year. This represents a total of approximately 16,500 possible new permanent residents over the three-year duration of the pilot.

The program is at its heart about as Canadian as it gets, attracting immigrants to move here for job opportunities and a new life, not so different from what brought our forefathers here to farm, and build a nation. It’s just another chapter in the story of immigration and agriculture that has always been intertwined.

Calvin Daniels is Editor with Yorkton This Week.