Throughout 2017, a number of seed growers and related organizations voiced concerns about lack of seed grower access to foreign labour through the Government of Canada’s Temporary Foreign Workers Program (TFWP).
To better understand the issue, Canadian Seed Growers’ Association (CSGA) surveyed seed growers across the country. Here are some of the findings:
- 26% of members surveyed were not able to find all the workers needed to work on their seed farms in 2016 and 2017;
- When asked what types of workers seed farms need most, 59% of respondents indicated they needed full time permanent positions while 41% indicated they needed seasonal help;
- 27% of respondents used government programs to access workers;
- 47% of respondents indicated they would use the Temporary Foreign Workers Program (TFWP) to access season workers if they had access to the program
As a result of these findings, the CSGA began working with the Canadian Seed Trade Association, the Seed Corn Growers of Ontario and the Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council (CAHRC) to sensitize Government and in particular the Department of Employment and Social Development Canada to the need to expand access to the TFWP to all seed growers.
Initial efforts have focused on ensuring that canola seed growers maintain their current access to the program, that seed corn growers regain the access that they recently (and inexplicably) lost and that other seed growers needs be recognized. While these efforts have not yet yielded results, Government’s initial response has been encouraging.
CSGA will continue to advocate on behalf of members on labour issues and will provide progress reports as discussions with government evolve.