Farmers all over Ontario are nearing the end of another successful fall harvest. The harvest was made possible by a seasonal labour program that has helped the province’s fruit and vegetable industry to thrive for more than 50 years.
Approximately 18,000 workers from Mexico and the Caribbean, employed at approximately 1,450 Ontario farms as a supplement to local labour, will soon head home.
The Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP) was established in 1966 to respond to a severe shortage of domestic agricultural workers. It continues to serve the same role 52 years later.
“This program has proven once again how critical it is to our industry,” says Ken Forth, president of Foreign Agricultural Resource Management Services (F.A.R.M.S.), which administers the program. “Without SAWP there would be a lot of Ontario farmers who wouldn’t be able to stay in business and Ontario consumers would lose access to fresh, local food.”
While some of these seasonal workers will continue their placements for several more weeks, farms.com reports how many are beginning to return home on a daily basis as they complete their work terms.