Canadian farms always have work for foreigners. Because of travel bans to prevent the spread of COVID-19, non-residents are being barred from entering Canada and experts are worried that production will be negatively affected.
Farmers have to start crop planting when spring comes. Usually it is the temporary foreign workers (TFWs) who do this planting because locals aren’t available. Locals either don’t want to do this type of work or they don’t have the skills needed.
Most of the TFWs do the same work at the same farms every year. They are familiar with the crops and the equipment needed.
Manitoba farmer Chris Connery told CIC News that he employs approximately 55 TFWs every year, who have been returning for the past 20 years. Crops such as strawberries, broccoli, carrots and asparagus are planted. If TFWs aren’t allowed into Canada, new people will have to be trained or different crops will have to be planted.
The agricultural industry is concerned about important team members being lost if TFWs cannot get into Canada because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Steve Bamford is a member of the Wholesale Produce Association’s board of directors in Toronto. He confirms that they will experience produce shortages if the TFWs can’t get in.
Bamford stated in a telephone interview that they are concerned about food security. Canada can’t depend on the supply of fresh produce from Mexico or the U.S. at a time like this.
Another concern is that certain farms might have to close down if they can’t make plans to replace their usual TFWs in time.