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New family work permit program could eventually apply to Canada’s ag workers

December 7, 2022
By Top Crop Manager

Canada’s Ministry of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship has confirmed that it will extend work permits to family members of temporary foreign workers in an effort to improve recovery efforts for employers in numerous sectors.

While agriculture is among Canada’s industries that commonly employs a significant number of temporary foreign workers, the new measure will not immediately include family members of agricultural workers. However, the program will include consultation with agricultural partners and stakeholders to explore accepting family members of agricultural workers.

Prior to this announcement, spouses were only eligible for a work permit if the principal applicant was working in a high-skill occupation. Beginning in January 2023 through a temporary, two-year measure, eligibility will be expanded to spouses and working-age children through a phased approach for workers at “all skill levels.” It is estimated that family members of more than 200,000 foreign workers could begin working in Canada.

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The first phase will enable family members of workers coming to Canada through the high-wage stream of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program or the International Mobility Program to apply for an open work permit.

The second phase will expand the measure to the family members of workers from the low-wage stream of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, following consultations.

The third phase will include consultation with agricultural partners and stakeholders to assess operational feasibility for expanding the measure to family members of agricultural workers.

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