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Agriculture

New immigration pilot will offer residency to some migrant farm-workers

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OTTAWA — A new three-year immigration experiment that will give migrant workers a path to permanent residency in Canada is getting a thumbs-up from industry but a thumbs-down from migrant rights groups.

Over the last several years, industries such as meat cutting and processing and mushroom farming have relied on seasonal temporary foreign workers due to labour shortages, even though the work is not seasonal.

A new pilot program announced on Friday aims to attract and retain migrant workers by giving them an opportunity to become permanent residents.

Currently, migrant farm workers who come to Canada through the program for seasonal agricultural workers are only given limited-term work permits and do not have a pathway to permanent residency.

Temporary foreign farm workers who are eligible for this new pilot will be able to apply for permanent residency after 12 months and, if they’re approved, will also be allowed to bring their families to Canada.

Industry groups are applauding the new program, which they say is badly needed to address a lack of people available or willing to work on farms and in food-processing plants.

A study by the Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council released last month found farmers across Canada lost $2.9 billion in sales due to unfilled job vacancies. The study also found the situation has improved, thanks to access to migrant workers and new technologies, but Canadian farms and agri-food plants are still dealing with 16,500 vacancies.

Ryan Koeslag, executive vice president of the Canadian Mushroom Growers Association, said Friday he is pleased to see the federal government willing to adapt its immigration policies to benefit certain agriculture producers.

“For the last decade or more, mushroom growers and other farmers, have fought for immigration access for our sector’s farm workers employed in year-round jobs,” said Ryan Koeslag, executive vice president of the Canadian Mushroom Growers Association.

But Chris Ramsaroop, spokesperson for the group Justice for Migrant Workers, said the access to permanent residency will only apply to those who take part in this narrow pilot program and will continue to be unavailable to the thousands of migrant farm-workers who arrive through the seasonal agriculture workers program.

“We’re dividing agricultural workers based on which industries are more deserving than others,” he said, noting migrant workers who have already been working in Canada in meat production or mushroom plants will have easier access to this program than fruit- or vegetable-farm workers.

Ramsaroop says migrant groups continue to call on the government to offer all temporary foreign workers permanent status upon arrival in Canada.

A maximum of 2,750 principal applicants, plus family members, will be accepted for processing each year during the three-year pilot. Applications are to be accepted beginning in 2020.

Teresa Wright, The Canadian Press




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Agri-Culture

Kraay Family Farm Celebrates 20 Years of Farmtastic Fun

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July 17, 2019 | Lacombe, AB –

from Kraay Family Farm

Kraay Family Farm is proud to celebrate 20 years of growing memories – your memories and ours!

The Kraay Family Farm is excited to announce that in honour of a milestone two decades of operation, the 2019 corn maze design honours and celebrates 20 years of family-friendly farm fun. The maze covers 15 acres of land and incorporates the Kraay Family Farm 20-year logo.

“We often get questions about why there is a crow in our logo. Our family is Dutch in origin and the name ‘Kraay’ actually means ‘Crow’ in Dutch. That, and there are a lot of crows around here!” explains Rachel Kraay. Rachel and Reuben Kraay own the farm together with Reuben’s parents, Ed and Linda Kraay.

“We are so grateful for the many guests who have encouraged, supported and had fun with us over these last 20 years! To own and operate a business where we get to watch our kids and our community’s kids grow up and to be part of families enjoying time together is amazing and truly a blessing for us,” says Rachel Kraay, one of the owners of the Kraay Family Farm.

Ed and Linda started the farm as a means to supplement the income from their small hog farm. Reuben was traveling after high school and visited a similar type of farm with a corn maze and other agritainment attractions and suggested the idea to his parents. “Ed and Linda like to have fun and try new things so, together with friends of theirs, they started the farm on a whim one year with just a corn maze, a slide, and a few picnic tables and fire pits,” continues Kraay, “The farm has just grown from there! Reuben and I joined his parents in 2005 after our first child was born and we’ve been adding to the farm ever since!”

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Agriculture

Scrapie, a disease related to mad cow, found in two flocks of sheep in Alberta

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Scrapie disease in Central Alberta

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency says some sheep in Alberta have been infected with scrapie, a fatal disease that affects the animals’ nervous system.

The federal agency’s website says classic scrapie, which can be transmitted to other sheep and goats, was confirmed last month in two Alberta flocks.

Scrapie belongs to the family of diseases that includes mad cow disease in cattle, chronic wasting disease in deer and elk, and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans.

Health Canada says there is no known link between scrapie and human health.

The CFIA says scrapie can only been seen in adult sheep between two and five years of age and can take years to develop.

Once an animal appears ill it typically dies within a few months.

The Canadian Press

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