The majority of Canadians believe that temporary foreign workers have a positive impact on Canada’s agricultural sector and support permanent immigration options for them.
The Nanos poll, commissioned by Canadian Senator Ratna Omidvar, highlights Canadians broad support of seasonal temporary workers in the agricultural sector.
The poll is being used to push the government for additional pathways of immigration for the approximately 60,000 seasonal agricultural workers who come to Canada every year. The goal of this push is to create a special category of immigration for all essential temporary migrant workers, across all sectors of the Canadian economy.
While temporary foreign workers do have some options to stay in Canada permanently, for low-skilled agricultural workers, the options are limited.
Options for temporary agricultural workers
For temporary foreign workers in the Canadian tech or business world, permanent immigration options are plentiful. The Express Entry program is a great pathway to permanent residence. The Global Skills Strategy and provincial nominee programs are also a viable option if you are eligible.
But for seasonal agricultural workers, the options are more slim. Canada’s immigration system isn’t very accepting of unskilled work experience, like those of farm labourers or food processing workers. Some provincial nominee programs do have categories for seasonal agricultural workers but the main option for these workers is the Agri-Food Pilot.
This program is not without problems. First, the program requires an applicant to have a non-seasonal, full-time job offer from an eligible employer. Second, of the nine occupations eligible for the Agri-Food Pilot, only five are for low-skilled workers. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, there is an annual cap of 2,750 applications the program will accept.
Since some of the workers eligible for the Agri-Food Pilot are performing skilled labour in Canada, only a fraction of that 2,750 will go to low-skilled agricultural workers.
The government has alluded to new immigration programs that will make it easier for those with temporary status to stay permanently in Canada, but so far, we haven’t seen any concrete action taken.
Key findings of the poll
- 40% of Canadians support, and 41% somewhat support, pathways for permanent immigration to temporary foreign workers.
- 71% of Canadians agree, and 22% somewhat agree, that temporary foreign workers are essential contributors to agricultural sector.
- 48% of respondents agree, and 36% somewhat agree, that the temporary foreign worker program has a positive impact on Canada’s agricultural sector.
- Nearly all Canadians (96%) believe that the agricultural sector is important or somewhat important to the Canadian economy.
About the Nanos poll
Nanos conducted the poll using a hybrid telephone and online random survey of 1,039 Canadians, 18 years of age or older, between October 28th to November 1st, 2020 as part of an omnibus survey. Participants were randomly recruited by telephone using live agents and administered a survey online.
The margin of error for this survey is ±3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.