Workers harvest grapes at a farm. File photo courtesy of © Can Stock Photo / gina_sanders. Workers harvest grapes at a farm. File photo courtesy of © Can Stock Photo / gina_sanders.

Additional protection coming to southwestern Ontario foreign workers

The federal government has launched a program designed to help address labour shortages, as well as protect temporary foreign workers from abuse.

At a media event Tuesday at DC Farms in Ruthven, Windsor-Tecumseh MP Irek Kusmierczyk announced a Recognized Employer Pilot (REP) program, under the existing plan for temporary foreign workers (TFW). The $29.3-million, three-year program will help fill vital jobs across southwestern Ontario by offering incentives to companies who have repeatedly hired TFWs and remain in good standing.

"Temporary foreign workers are vital to the agricultural community in Southwestern Ontario," said Kusmierczyk. "Local farmers and employers depend on their skills to maintain Canada's food supply. The Recognized Employer Pilot will help employers with a strong track record in the program hire the workers they need while ensuring that temporary foreign workers are protected."

The REP was first announced in the 2022 federal budget as the "trusted employer model". Eligible employers will gain access to Labour Market Impact Assessments (LMIAs), valid for up to 36 months. They will also benefit from a simplified LMIA application should they need to hire additional workers from the same occupation during the three years, thus allowing employers to plan for future growing seasons.

Recognized employers will also receive a federal Job Bank designation.

Primary agriculture employers will be the first to apply, starting in September. All other employers will be eligible to apply in January 2024. All applications for REP will close in September 2024.

Complete information about LMIAs can be found on the official Government of Canada website.

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