Facts and key messages about international farm workers

Canadian farmers hire Canadians first. When Canadians are unavailable or unwilling to apply for farm jobs, farmers need international workers to help grow and harvest food for our tables. Seasonal paid workers make up 53% of Canada’s paid agricultural workforce. Furthermore, on-farm agriculture has the highest job vacancy rate of any industry at 5.4 percent.

They are integral to the Canadian agriculture and agri-food value chain which employs 2.3 million Canadians across the country, providing safe and sustainable Canadian grown fruit, vegetables and other Canadian products for our grocery shelves, as well as helping Canadian farmers feed the world.

Unfortunately, the critical and chronic labour shortage on Canadian farms and the mutually beneficial relationship between international farm workers and Canadian producers is poorly understood by the majority of Canadians. The Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) is governed by very strict rules with two primary agriculture streams for international farm workers: the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program (SAWP) and the Agricultural Stream. Unless specified, the facts below apply to all international farm workers and employers in both streams.

*please note that the facts below are based on the most recently available data.