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Why farms in Okanagan, Canada can't find local workersWhen summer comes around and fruits are in need of picking, Okanagan farms and orchards attract workers from around the world and around the country, but rarely are these workers local.
They are more likely to come from Quebec or Mexico out of necessity — there just aren't enough people in the Okanagan interested in doing the work. That may be for a variety of reasons, including lack of awareness of what work is available, according to sources who work in the industry. It might also be more fundamental.
“I don’t think culturally we raise our kids to work on a farm,” Dorenberg Orchards president Madeleine van Roechoudt says. “As a society I feel like we tend to view agriculture as a negative, and not a positive experience.”
“It’s very heavy work, or in the packing houses can be very repetitive work, so that seems to be something that deters people,” B.C. Fruit Growers' Association general manager Glen Lucas said. “There are more urban jobs available for young people that seem to align more with their expectations.”
According to Lucas, before the seasonal agriculture worker program was implemented, it was difficult to hire enough labour.
“Before, farmers would have to decide which acre would yield the best crop, because there just wasn’t enough people to harvest them all. Labour is a critical component: Without labour, you’re without a crop.”
Publication date: 4/21/2017
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