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Foreign Workers Help Ease Chronic Farm Labour Shortage

by 5m Editor
25 January 2008, at 8:18am

CANADA - The production manager with Sunterra Farms says that hiring foreign workers has proved an effective solution to the chronic labour shortage plaguing western Canada's agriculture sector, Bruce Cochrane.

A low unemployment rate in western Canada has made it increasingly difficult to attract workers.

To contend with that shortage Sunterra Farms has been recruiting foreign workers, primarily from Mexico and the Philippines, to fill all types of positions from entry level to highly skilled.

Mark Chambers says the process is relatively simple but it takes a considerable amount of time.

Mark Chambers-Sunterra Farms

The first process is to obtain authorization from Service Canada or HRSDC that you can hire a foreign worker and to make that application you have to show that you've tried to recruit from within Canada, you've done some advertising and submit your application and that process, just to get approval, can take up to about 32 weeks at this moment in time.

They're getting overloaded, there's a lot of people coming to Alberta.

We're like 100 thousand employees short in the province so everybody's looking for foreign labour.

The burden on Service Canada to process all of this paperwork is huge.

They just don't have the workforce to do it and it's getting things backed up.

That process to get that approval takes a long time.

Then, depending on which country we recruit from, if you to Mexico, once they've got LMO approval in Mexico, you can as quickly as six weeks get an employee on a work permit to come to Canada.

If you go to somewhere like the Philippines where there is more and more people from the Philippines applying to come through Canadian immigration there, that process can take up to six months.

It's not a quick fix.

It takes a long time and you've got to be ahead of the game all the time.

You've always got to be thinking about how many employees will I need in six months time because I've got to start the process now because it can take six months to a year to get someone.


Chambers stresses many people have the impression that hiring foreign workers is a quick cheap fix but that's not the case.

He notes pay scales are governed by Service Canada and are equal to what Canadians would be paid and there are additional recruiting costs but the process is extremely satisfying.

5m Editor