Migrant workers make up more than a quarter of the workforce in the Canadian mushroom industry, according to a new report. Photo Credit: Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council / Lydia Schouten

Canadian mushroom growers push for permanent residency for migrant workers

Article in the Toronto Star
31 October, 2017

Good to see an industry which is ready to incur higher labour costs in order to avoid labour shortages and retain a skilled labour force. We need more of this spirit in other agricultural sectors, as well as in construction, hospitality, care, domestic services and extraction. States need to reduce the common precariousness of temporary migrant statuses and provide more legal pathways to various forms of stable status, including permanent residence.

Canada’s mushroom growers are urging Ottawa to grant permanent residency to 870 migrant farmworkers to help the $1 billion industry fill current job vacancies and sustain growth.

Without a stable, skilled labour pool of migrant workers, the sector, which employs 4,330 people, could be in jeopardy, warned a report released Monday by Mushrooms Canada.

“Mushroom farms provide permanent, year-round jobs with a quality living wage in rural Canada and would like to welcome these skilled workers to Canada, so they have the option of staying and buying homes and building a life here as well,” said George Graham, president of Mushrooms Canada, whose members produce 134 tons of mushrooms a year.

“These workers are interested in working on farms and staying on farms. This is their dream job and we are fulfilling these workers’ dreams. They are our valued employees and part of the community, and we support and help them integrate in the local rural communities…

Migrant workers’ access to permanent residence is extremely limited because Canada’s immigration program selects prospective immigrants based on university education and professional designations — qualifications farmworkers lack.”

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