Canada: Study measures impact of seasonal farm labour program

A program that supplies Ontario farmers experiencing domestic labour shortages with seasonal workers from Mexico and the Caribbean is the “lynchpin” of the province’s multi-billion-dollar horticultural sector, says a new study.

The Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP) is a key reason Ontario’s horticulture industry is able to generate $5.4 billion in economic activity and approximately 34,280 jobs, according to research recently released by Guelph-based Agri-food Economic Systems.

Because SAWP is a “Canadians first” program, supplementary seasonal farm labour is hired from participating countries only if agricultural operators cannot find domestic workers to fill vacancies.

Approximately 1,450 farms benefitted from the program this year, hiring nearly 17,000 seasonal workers. While some of these workers will continue their placements for several more weeks during the fall harvest, many are beginning to return home on a daily basis as they complete their work terms.

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