Canada Extends Agri-Food Immigration Pilot Until 2025 And Removes Caps On Number Of Workers

Canada Extends Agri-Food Immigration Pilot Until 2025 And Removes Caps On Number Of Workers
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Canada is extending the Agri-Food Pilot (AFP) for another two years and ditching the cap on the number of workers who can apply for each occupation.

“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,” said Immigration Minister Sean Fraser.

“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.”

Under the AFP, 2,750 applicants already working in Canada every year in the country’s agriculture and agri-food industry gain permanent residency. In 2021, that industry sector had exports of nearly $82.2 billion, including raw agricultural materials, fish and seafood, and processed foods.

That makes Canada the fifth-largest exporter of agri-food and seafood in the world, exporting to over 200 countries. The industry is responsible for one in nine jobs in Canada and employed 2.1 million people in 2021.

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Launched in May 2020, the AFP will now run until May 14, 2025 and continue to help facilitate the transition of experienced workers in agricultural and food industries to permanent residence in Canada.

Monday, Keith Currie, president of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, said labour shortages are one of the most significant challenges facing the agriculture sector in Canada and the country needs programs like the AFP which support the long-term needs of the agri-food sector.

“We are pleased to see some greater flexibility in the program and look forward to working with the government to ensure farm workers have clear and accessible pathways to permanent residence,” he said.

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Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will be introducing the announced changes to the pilot in stages by the end of this year, including:

  • expanding open work permit access to family members of all participants in the AFP, 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;
  • giving applicants residing in Canada the option to either meet the job offer requirement, including the median wage requirement for the job offer, or the education requirement, including educational credential assessment verification, and;
  • accepting work experience gained under an open work permit for vulnerable workers, giving more workers an opportunity to qualify.

Eligible Occupations

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

Union reps gave Ottawa’s move to extend the AFP two thumbs up.

“The CLC is pleased that the Agri-Food Pilot will be extended for another year,” said Bea Bruske, president of the Canadian Labour Congress.

Canadian Mushroom Industry Has A 12% Job Vacancy Rate

“We have fought hard for migrant workers, asking the government to create more opportunities for permanent residency for migrants, especially for low-wage migrants, so they can have and exercise their full human and labour rights in Canadian society. The promise of changes to the pilot recognizes the role of unions, and is a good step forward.”

Since the francophone province of Quebec sets its own immigration programs under the Canada-Quebec Accord, the AFP does not apply there and candidates must intend to live and work outside of Quebec after obtaining permanent residence.


Business representatives from Canada’s meat and mushroom industries said the AFP extension would provide employers in those sectors with much-needed workers.

“Our farms employ people for full-time, permanent positions with competitive wages. We have about 70 per cent Canadian employees and an over 12 per cent job vacancy rate,” said Ryan Koeslag, executive director of Mushrooms Canada.

“When Canadians don’t apply, we hire temporary foreign workers. Currently, we have over 150 of our temporary foreign workers who have applied to the Agri-Food Pilot, and we anticipate a lot more will now be eligible.”

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Colin Singer
Colin Singer is an international acclaimed Canadian immigration lawyer and founder of featured on Wikipedia. Colin Singer is also founding director of the Canadian Citizenship & Immigration Resource Center (CCIRC) Inc. He served as an Associate Editor of ‘Immigration Law Reporter’, the pre-eminent immigration law publication in Canada. He previously served as an executive member of the Canadian Bar Association’s Quebec and National Immigration Law Sections and is currently a member of the Canadian Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. Colin has twice appeared as an expert witness before Canada’s House of Commons Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration. He is frequently recognized as a recommended authority at national conferences sponsored by government and non-government organizations on matters affecting Canada’s immigration and human resource industries. Since 2009, Colin has been a Governor of the Quebec Bar Foundation a non-profit organization committed to the advancement of the profession, and became a lifetime member in 2018.