Ottawa – April 15, 2021 – The voice of Canada’s food workers, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW Canada), welcomes yesterday’s announcement by the federal government to create an additional 30,000 permanent residency (PR) opportunities for more than 100 critical occupations, including farm, greenhouse, and food processing workers. A further 20,000 PR opportunities were announced for temporary foreign workers (TFWs) currently in healthcare roles, and 40,000 for international students.
For the past three decades, UFCW Canada has led the effort to advance fairness and rights for migrant food workers in Canada, and the union has played a critical role in achieving PR pathways for TFWs in this sector, including the Agri-Food Pilot launched in 2019.
Throughout the pandemic, UFCW Canada has helped advance a number of public health and protective measures for migrant food workers, including pay protection and Employment Insurance (EI) eligibility for migrant and temporary foreign workers who are laid off, have become ill, or have to quarantine due to COVID-19.
“We welcome this most recent federal announcement and the additional PR pathways for TFWs doing critical work in the food industry and other frontline sectors, but much more action is urgently needed,” says UFCW Canada National President Paul Meinema. “Clear pathways that allow significantly more migrant food workers to achieve PR status must become a central element of the Temporary Foreign Workers Program. If yesterday’s announcement is just a one-time offer to backfill gaps in annual immigration targets, then not much will have been accomplished to fix the glaring, and well-documented, deficiencies that have long plagued the program.”
UFCW Canada is also concerned that an English requirement of CLB 4 will exclude many hard-working TFWs who, if given the opportunity to immigrate and improve their English over time, would make excellent citizens who are fully dedicated to strengthening the food sector and the country as a whole.
Increasing pathways to PR and citizenship is one of 14 core recommendations by UFCW Canada outlined in the union’s annual Status of Migrant Farm Workers Report.
To be eligible for the PR opportunities announced on April 14, workers must have at least one year of Canadian work experience in one of the identified occupations, and the streams will remain open until November 5, 2021, or until they have reached their limit. For full details regarding the announcement, visit the federal government’s statement on permanent residency with recent Canadian work experience in essential occupations.
UFCW Canada is the country’s leading private sector union, representing more than 250,000 union members across Canada working in food retail and processing, transportation, health care, logistics, warehousing, agriculture, hospitality, manufacturing, and the security and professional sectors. UFCW is the country's most innovative organization dedicated to building fairness in workplaces and communities. UFCW Canada members are your neighbours who work at your local grocery stores, hotels, car rental agencies, nursing homes, restaurants, food processing plants, and thousands of other locations across the country. To learn more about UFCW and its ground-breaking work, visit www.ufcw.ca.