Representatives of the federal government recently toured Norfolk County to better understand the needs of farmers and offshore workers in the food production sector. The government delegates were hosted by F.A.R.M.S., Foreign Agricultural Resource Management Services.
At a dinner meeting in Port Dover, Norfolk County staff highlighted the importance of offshore workers to our agriculture sector, and the care farmers take in ensuring their temporary and seasonal workers are housed properly.
Clark Hoskin, Manager of Tourism & Economic Development for Norfolk County, summarized Statistics Canada data which indicates an increased dependence on seasonal and temporary workers on farms across Canada.
Ontario, the province with the highest number of seasonal and temporary workers (46,139) on farms, dependence on this labour pool has increased by 29% since 2011.
Quebec farms employ 29,967 seasonal and temporary workers, and dependence on them has increased 17%.
British Columbia farmers are the third largest employer of seasonal and temporary workers, with 29,627. Dependence has increased 66% since 2011.
At the meeting, Public Health Inspector Kelsey Lutzi explained how the health unit ensures that farmers are following the seasonal worker accommodation guidelines.
According to an article in the Norfolk News, farmer Paul Procyk said that without offshore labour programs, the fourth-generation family operation would not have expanded its vegetable production operation.