Province welcoming seasonal workers for growing season


As fruit and food producers reach growing season, Ontario is welcoming seasonal foreign workers back into the province.  

The Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program, created over 50 years ago, intends to counter a shortage in domestic seasonal farm workers. 

Ken Forth, president of Foreign Agricultural Resources Management Service, says there haven't been too many issues with COVID-19 outbreaks at the farms. 

"We haven't heard of much lately, but it's not the same as the old outbreaks. The old outbreaks were when workers weren't vaccinated, the old outbreaks were when nobody, including the health officials knew what to do, and two years ago no one even knew what this was," he said.

Forth says seasonal foreign workers are essential.  

"Our jobs are seasonal, if you're an able bodied person living in Canada and want a job, you can get a full time job in another industry," he continued. "It would be great to make a living off of six months of work a year but that doesn't happen here."  

He says there has been some precautions due to COVID-19, including changes to housing for foreign workers.

"Usually it just means there's a lot more room in there, I've got to say, most of the growers stepped up and did what they had to do as directed by their local health unit making people as safe as possible," Forth said

5,000 workers have already arrived in Ontario for the growing season, and around 18,000 workers are expected to be placed at approximately 1,150 farms across the province.