Canadians are at risk of  losing access to locally grown fruits and vegetables.

What is the problem?

Access to locally grown fruits and vegetables has been put at risk.

Today, Canadians enjoy access to affordable produce grown locally. Over 1,400 Ontario farms alone employ seasonal agricultural workers.

But the federal government may change that.

Federal regulators who oversee the program are implementing more and more regulations, and some in government are advocating for ending the program all together.

These changes could hurt Canadian consumers. Access to affordable, locally grown produce is at risk.

What are the facts?

  • The Seasonal Agricultural Workers’ Program was established in 1966 to respond to a severe shortage of domestic agricultural workers. It continues to serve the same role 52 years later, enabling Ontario farmers to stay in business.
  • In Ontario this year, more than 18,000 workers from Mexico and the Caribbean are expected to fill vacancies on a seasonal basis — up to a maximum of eight months — at approximately 1,450 Ontario farms.
  • The Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program is a “Canadians first” program, which means supplementary seasonal farm labour is hired from partner countries only if farmers cannot find Canadians willing to take the same jobs.
  • It’s estimated that at least two jobs for Canadians are created in the agri-food industry for every seasonal worker employed through SAWP at Ontario farms.
  • Without the program most Ontario farmers simply couldn’t continue to grow fruits and vegetables. Some would move into less labour-intensive crops, while others would abandon agriculture altogether.
  • Recent labour market research by the Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council cited the program as a key reason Ontario’s horticulture industry is able to generate $5.4 billion in economic activity and approximately 34,280 jobs.
  • A severe shortage of domestic workers is costing Canadian farms approximately $1.5 billion per year and hurting Canada’s overall economic competitiveness, according to recent labour market research by the Conference Board of Canada.
  • This program isn’t about trying to replace Canadian workers with cheaper labour from overseas. It costs participating farmers far more to employ workers through the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program than Canadian workers because of the added costs of flights, housing, permits, and added regulatory compliance costs.