First Look

Seasonal farm workers heading home after successful work term

Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade | 2013-11-20 00:00:00

With the fall season in full swing, many Ontario farmers have finished or are in the midst of their fall harvest with the help of seasonal workers from Mexico and the Caribbean.

This successful program is administered by Foreign Agricultural Resource Management Services (F.A.R.M.S.). The Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP) has helped Ontario farmers fill more than 15,000 seasonal vacancies this year.

Established in 1966 to respond to a critical shortage of available domestic agricultural workers, SAWP continues to serve the same role today, connecting Ontario farmers with supplementary seasonal labour from Mexico, Jamaica, Barbados, Trinidad/Tobago and the Eastern Caribbean States.

Despite temporarily being away from home and their families during their work terms in Ontario, the workers are only a telephone call away from someone from their homelands. Each country participating in SAWP maintains a Liaison service or Consulate office in Ontario to look after the general welfare of agricultural workers and help them navigate any issues or complications they may face while working here.

“Liaison service is one of the unique features of our program that makes it so successful and has made it a model for similar programs around the world,” says Ken Forth, president of F.A.R.M.S. and a Lynden, Ont. broccoli grower. “There are about 380,000 temporary workers in Canada through a variety of programs and the seasonal agricultural worker program is the only one that provides workers the support of Liaison services.”

Liaison services from each participating country are open year round — their role contributes to a repeat of 80% of the seasonal agricultural workers each year. The Liaison service is instrumental in recruiting and selecting the best candidates for placement of successful applicants each year on Ontario farms and provide workers support on a wide range of issues during their term of employment.

“For decades, this program has provided seasonal workers well-paying employment, benefits and on the job educational opportunities not available at home,” Forth says. “At the same time, it gives Ontario farmers a steady source of reliable labour as a supplement to local labour.”

Seasonal agricultural workers are beginning to return home every day now as more and more of them complete their work terms. The Liaison service, which just a few months ago welcomed them back to Ontario, are wishing them a safe journey home before moving on to prepare for the next growing season.

Posted By :Ann- Margaret Lim

Company Name : Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade

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