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Six Steps For Hiring Immigrant Farm Workers

Hiring temporary foreign workers can be a solution for farms struggling to find good employees, but be prepared to encounter red tape in abundance.

Federal and provincial legislation designed to protect temporary foreign workers, their employers and the nation’s border makes for a complex process. For those farmers who have navigated this process, it has been a boon to their operations, and in many cases they end up with great staff.

And it’s not just the farm that benefits. Often, the workers bring their families with them, adding to the local community in a myriad of ways. In some communities, such as Winkler, Man., word of mouth helps with the process, as many farms have brought in workers from Mexico, Paraguay and Germany.

“I have three guys year round now from Paraguay,” says Kris Penner, who farms at Altona, Man. “At first they had only temporary work visas, but now they are landed immigrants and they’ve brought their families to live here as well.”

Penner notes that, as the employer, he is responsible for the workers for two years, including providing them with work and a place to live. If however, the worker changes jobs, that responsibility moves to the next employer.

The process for bringing in foreign workers may vary slightly, depending on provincial legislation. Below is an example of how the process works in Manitoba, with links provided to the various government departments. A call to your provincial Department of Labour and/or Immigration will yield the requirements for your situation.

In Manitoba, an employer has to deal with four government agencies. The first step is provincial, the remaining three are all federal. These steps were developed from information supplied by Ben Remple, assistant deputy minister, Manitoba Labour and Immigration.

1)The Manitoba employer (the farmer) completes and submits the Worker Recruitment and Protection Act Employer Registration Application (see this link for the Application Forms http://www.gov.mb.ca/labour/standards/index.html).

2)Employment Standards then processes the application and once approved, it issues a certificate of registration from the province of Manitoba, allowing the employer to recruit internationally.

3)Once the certificate of registration has been received by the employer, he or she can then complete the application for a Labour Market Opinion (LMO) from Service Canada. (see http://www.rhdcc-hrsdc.gc.ca/eng/ workplaceskills/foreign_workers/ forms/emp5239e.pdf).

4)The employer submits the LMO application along with the certificate of registration to Service Canada (Foreign Worker Unit) in Winnipeg, Man.

5)Once the LMO has been approved, the employer sends a copy of the confirmation to the intended candidate who will then apply for a temporary work permit in his or her country of residence.

6)Once the candidate receives the work permit, he or she can then travel to Manitoba and commence employment. In this instance, the worker’s spouse could also be issued an open work permit.

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Start here for Alberta andSaskatchewan

FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THE TEMPORARY WORKER PROGRAMS IN ALBERTA AND SASKATCHEWAN, CHECK OUT THE FOLLOWING WEBSITES: ALBERTA: WWW.ALBERTACANADA.COM/IMMIGRATION/WORKINGTEMPORARY-FOREIGN-WORKERS.ASPX. SASKATCHEWAN: WWW.CANADAVISA.COM/SASKATCHEWAN-PROVINCIAL-NOMINEE-PROGRAM.HTML. BOTH WEBSITES CONTAIN USEFUL INFORMATION WHEN IT COMES TO CONSIDERING A TEMPORARY FOREIGN WORKER FOR YOUR FARM OPERATION.

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