Ottawa extends, expands Agri-Food Pilot

Applicants' family members given access to open work permit

Ottawa extends, expands Agri-Food Pilot

The federal government is extending the Agri-Food Pilot until May 14, 2025, with some changes.

Launched in May 2020, the pilot helps facilitate the transition of experienced workers in agricultural and food industries to permanent residence in Canada.

“Our farmers and food processors depend on the steady arrival of foreign workers so that planting, harvesting and food processing activities can take place throughout the year, and they need our continued support to attract and retain these talented workers,” says Sean Fraser, minister of immigration, refugees and citizenship. “Extending the Agri-Food Pilot helps these sectors find the employees they need, so we can be confident that our food security, economy and living standards for Canadians across the country will continue to improve and grow.”

Ottawa also recently extended temporary measures introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic and through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) Workforce Solutions Road Map.


Ottawa is also removing the annual occupational caps, or the limits for how many candidates can apply for a specific occupation under the pilot.

Removing these limits will provide an opportunity for more eligible candidates to apply, according to the government.

Also, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) intends to introduce the following changes to the pilot in stages through this year:

  • expanding open work permit access to family members of all participants in the Agri-Food Pilot—regardless of the participant’s job skill level
  • allowing unions to attest to a candidate’s work experience, as an alternative to employer reference letters
  • giving applicants residing in Canada the option to either meet the job offer requirement, including the median wage requirement for the job offer, or the education requirement, including educational credential assessment verification
  • accepting work experience gained under an open work permit for vulnerable workers, giving more workers an opportunity to qualify

These changes are a significant step in meeting the longstanding labour market needs of employers in the meat processing, mushroom, greenhouse crop production and livestock-raising industries, says the government.

Recently, the federal government announced it is allowing international graduates with a recently expired or expiring post-graduation work permit (PGWP) to qualify for an additional or extended work permit to stay in Canada longer.


Numerous stakeholders welcomed the latest development from Ottawa, including the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC).

“The CLC is pleased that the Agri-Food Pilot will be extended for another year,” says Bea Bruske, president, CLC. “We have fought hard for migrant workers, asking the government to create more opportunities for permanent residency for migrants, especially for low-wage migrants, so they can have and exercise their full human and labour rights in Canadian society. The promise of changes to the pilot recognizes the role of unions, and is a good step forward.”

"The Canadian Federation of Agriculture is happy to see the Agri-Food Pilot extended to 2025,” says Keith Currie, president of the federation. “We need programs that support the long-term needs of the agri-­food sector. We are pleased to see some greater flexibility in the program and look forward to working with the government to ensure farm workers have clear and accessible pathways to permanent residence."

The Canadian Meat Council also sees the value of the extension.

“The meat processing sector requires skilled, year-round labour to put Canadian meat products on grocery store shelves,” says Christopher White, president and CEO, Canadian Meat Council. “Our members invest in their workforce, and we are therefore very pleased with the measures announced today, which will help us retain these valued individuals.”

  • A total of 2,750 principal applicants can be processed under the pilot annually.  
  • The occupations and industries eligible under the pilot include:
    • meat product manufacturing
      • retail butchers
      • industrial butchers
      • farm supervisors and specialized livestock workers
      • food processing labourers
    • greenhouse, nursery and floriculture production, including mushroom production
      • farm supervisors and specialized livestock workers
      • general farm workers
      • harvesting labourers
    • animal production, excluding aquaculture
      • farm supervisors and specialized livestock workers
      • general farm workers

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