Despite the cold and snow outdoors, greenhouses across Ontario are already working hard to ensure consumers have a steady supply of fresh, local food on their tables this winter.
Approximately 3,000 seasonal workers from Mexico and the Caribbean began arriving in January at greenhouses in the Leamington area, Niagara and other parts of Ontario under a seasonal labour program that is critical to the success of the province’s thriving fruit and vegetable industry.
This is the 54th year that the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program (SAWP) has operated in Ontario, helping growers affected by a chronic shortage of domestic labour to fill vacancies. In total, roughly 18,000 workers are expected to be placed at about 1,450 Ontario farms this growing season.
“The greenhouse supplies a significant portion of our fresh, local produce sector and is very important to Ontario’s economy. Without this program to supplement local labour, the greenhouse industry wouldn’t be able to function effectively and we’d lose a valuable food source,” says Ken Forth, president of Foreign Agricultural Resource Management Services (F.AR.M.S.), which administers the program.
SAWP is a “Canadians first” program, which means supplementary seasonal farm labour is hired from partner countries only if farmers cannot find domestic workers willing to take the same jobs.
It’s estimated that at least two jobs for Canadians are created in the agrifood industry for every seasonal agricultural worker employed through SAWP at Ontario farms.
More information about Canada’s Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP) can be found at www.farmsontario.ca.
Source: Foreign Agricultural Resource Management Services January 21, 2020 news release