While the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) can help Canadian pork producers and their staff, employers who rely on the program report many frustrations. Farmers often find a drawn-out application process. In fact, applicants can wait six to eight months before they can hire for the role.
“Without the foreign worker program, we would be closed,” says Mark Chambers, senior production manager at Sunterra Farms in Acme, Alberta.
Before producers submit TFWP applications to Service Canada, they must advertise positions to Canadians on the national Job Bank and at least one other platform for a minimum of two weeks, says Marvin Salomons, a private consultant at Salomons Group Solutions in Red Deer. Salomons provides consulting services to farmers on behalf of Alberta Pork.
The producers then fill out Labour Market Impact Assessments (LMIAs) and submit them to the federal government. Once an employer receives a positive LMIA, the company can offer a temporary job to the foreign worker. Alberta Pork will cover one-third of farmers’ costs to hire private consultants to help complete LMIAs.
The agricultural industry faced a shortage of 30,000 workers 10 years ago. Now, that figure has climbed to 59,000. Within the next decade, that number could jump to 114,000, despite a 50 per cent increase in wages offered by meat processors since 2004.
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