National farm groups have welcomed the results of an Employment and Skills Development Canada report indicating a 94% compliance rate with employment regulations and standards by employers participating in the Temporary Foreign Worker program (TFWP).
“We are proud of our members’ track record with the TFWP compliance,” says Ryan Koeslag, executive vice-president with Mushrooms Canada, which represents the largest portion of workers hired under the agricultural stream of the TFWP. “Our mushroom members work hard to do the right thing by following the very strict TFWP rules.”
Canada’s mushroom farms, which produce a third of their crop in BC, employ approximately 2,400 ag stream workers nationally.
Koeslag noted that ESDC statistics indicate above-average compliance rates in the farm sector.
ESDC called out employers in the transport sector as receiving some of the highest fines following the inspections, with both banned from using the program for five years in consequence.
A dozen BC farm operations received fines during the inspection period, including an Aldergrove mushroom farm that failed to keep and provide records as requested and also failed to provide a workplace free of abuse.
Blueberry and orchard operations account for the largest share of fines.
The number of farms fined has increased as the ag stream channel has grown in popularity through the pandemic.
Three farms in BC received penalties in 2020, rising to 33 in 2021. Compliance has improved with experience and education on the part of industry, however, with approximately 11 farm operations fined in 2022 and 15 in 2023.