Government of Canada expands National Commodity List to give farmers greater access to labour

Employment and Social Development Canada

The Government of Canadarecognizes the important role temporary foreign workers play in supporting food security in key sectors that are critical to the Canadian economy.

Today, the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough, highlighted that the Government has expanded the National Commodity List (NCL) to include seed corn, oil seed, grains and maple syrup for the 2021 season. This expansion will allow farmers who cultivate or make these products to seek the help of workers through the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP).

Expanding the NCL to provide labour where it is most needed, while ensuring Canadians get the first chance at available jobs, is one of the many steps that the Government is taking to facilitate access to this important labour supply. At the same time, it is supporting the domestic workforce and ensuring that the health and safety of foreign workers are protected.

“Temporary foreign workers have been an integral part of the Canadian workforce and food supply chain for decades. We are working with farmers and food processing employers to ensure a steady labour supply to support our economy and ensure continued food security during these difficult times. We will continue to monitor the agricultural sector to determine if further action is required. The health and safety of temporary foreign workers remains a key priority for the Government.”

– Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough

The NCL helps determine eligibility and pay within the Primary Agricultural Stream of the Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) Program. Access to the SAWP and the Agricultural Stream is limited to employers hiring workers for the specified commodities on the NCL. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, employers and workers using the TFW Program/SAWP are encouraged to apply early to avoid any delays.

As a complementary measure to ensure that Canadians are able to take advantage of the many employment opportunities available in the agriculture and agri-food sector, thousands of available jobs in this sector are regularly posted on Job Bank, Canada’s national employment service.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of Canada has made significant investments to increase protections for temporary foreign workers and address outbreaks on farms. The Government continues to work with partners and stakeholders through the TFW Program to protect the health and safety of workers and the security of Canada’s food supply chain.

Consultations are underway with provinces and territories, employers, workers and other interested parties on a proposal to establish minimum requirements for employer-provided accommodations for the TFW Program.

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