VIDEO: Feds Announce Program for Migrant Workers to Stay in Canada

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A pilot program being introduced by the Federal Minister of Agriculture will allow temporary foreign workers to apply to stay in Canada.

On a visit to Leamington Marie-Claude Bibeau explained the goal is to fill positions in the agri-business sector.

She says they'll create 2,750 positions in the three year pilot program, many of which will end up in the Leamington and Kingsville areas.

Bibeau says the goal is to allow the well qualified workers to stay in Canada and not have to re-apply each year.

"For those workers who got to know the business.  They have the skills, they have some capacity in terms of language as well," says Bibeay. "They will be offered this possibility to stay in Canada with their family and get a faster path for the permanent residency."

She says the idea is not to take jobs away from Canadians.

"The challenge is to find the right balance between fulfilling our needs in terms of labour, obviously making sure that Canadians can access these jobs first.  But if there's no Canadians interested or available to do the job then we open it to foreign workers."

Ryan Koeslag, CEO of Mushrooms Canada, says about 73 per cent of their workforce is Canadian and the industry pays well, but they have trouble attracting new workers.

"In addition to trying to expand we have an ongoing vacancy issue to try and get workers to fill all the jobs that we have available.  We're constantly posting and find it difficult to find Canadians to find those jobs," says Koeslag. "And that's in addition to having good competitive wages.  We pay, through our research, up to $30 and hour for picking mushrooms."

The existing temporary foreign worker program does not allow the participants to apply for Canadian residency.