Canada extends the Agri-Food Pilot until May 2025

Canada extends the Agri-Food Pilot until May 2025

Recognizing the vital role that the agri-food sector plays in Canada’s economy, the Canadian government is committed to addressing the industry’s labour market needs. Therefore, the Honourable Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, announced the extension of the Agri-Food Pilot until May 14, 2025.

Initially launched in May 2020, the Agri-Food Pilot has facilitated the transition of experienced agricultural and food industry workers to permanent residency in Canada. By extending the pilot, the government aims to further bolster Canada’s food supply system and support the agri-food sector’s labour market needs.

In this article, we will discuss the elimination of annual occupational caps and the introduction of new changes aimed at better supporting the industry.

Removing Annual Occupational Caps and Expanding Eligibility

In an effort to better support employers and candidates, the Minister announced the elimination of annual occupational caps, which imposed limits on the number of candidates that could apply for a specific occupation under the pilot. Consequently, more eligible candidates will have the opportunity to apply.

Furthermore, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) also plans to introduce new changes to the pilot by the end of the year. According to IRCC, these changes include:

  • Granting open work permit access to family members of all participants in the Agri-Food Pilot, regardless of the participant’s job skill level.
  • Allowing unions to attest to a candidate’s work experience as an alternative to employer reference letters.
  • Providing applicants residing in Canada with the option to either:
    • meet the job offer requirement, including the median wage requirement for the job offer, or
    • meet the education requirement, including educational credential assessment verification.
  • Accepting work experience gained under an open work permit for vulnerable workers. This gives more workers an opportunity to qualify.

These changes will help employers in the meat processing, mushroom, greenhouse crop production, and livestock-raising industries, to address their labour market needs.

“Our farmers and food processors depend on the steady arrival of foreign workers so that planting, harvesting and food processing activities can take place throughout the year, and they need our continued support to attract and retain these talented workers. Extending the Agri-Food Pilot helps these sectors find the employees they need, so we can be confident that our food security, economy and living standards for Canadians across the country will continue to improve and grow.”

The Honourable Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

About the Agri-Food Pilot and Canada’s Agriculture Industry

The Agri-Food Pilot complements Canada’s existing suite of economic immigration programs. This includes the Atlantic Immigration Program, Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot, Caregiver Pilots, Global Skills Strategy, Express Entry, and the Provincial Nominee Program.

The occupations and industries eligible under the pilot include:

  • meat product manufacturing
    • retail butchers
    • industrial butchers
    • farm supervisors and specialized livestock workers
    • food processing labourers
  • greenhouse, nursery and floriculture production, including mushroom production
    • farm supervisors and specialized livestock workers
    • general farm workers
    • harvesting labourers
  • animal production, excluding aquaculture
    • farm supervisors and specialized livestock workers
    • general farm workers

In 2021, Canada exported nearly $82.2 billion in agriculture and food products. Moreover, it ranked as the fifth-largest exporter of agri-food and seafood globally.

The agri-food system also provided one in nine jobs in Canada, employing 2.1 million people. This five-year pilot examines an industry-specific approach by collaborating with agri-food employers and offering a pathway to permanent residence for temporary foreign workers who have worked in the agri-food sector in Canada. With the pilot’s extension and removal of occupational caps, up to 2,750 principal applicants can be processed annually. This contributes to the growth and vitality of Canada’s agri-food industry.

To learn more about the requirements for this program, please visit: Agri-Food Immigration Pilot Canada. Also Read: Need for Immigrant Workers in Canada’s Agriculture Industry.

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