Quebec apple season spared from changes to Temporary Foreign Worker Program

September 13, 2015 News
A worker on Dean Thomson's farm picks apples during the 2015 harvest. (CBC)

A worker on Dean Thomson’s farm picks apples during the 2015 harvest. (CBC)

Citizenship and Immigration Canada agreed to speed up the visa process for farm workers

Orchard owners worried short-term fix means next year’s harvest will see same bureaucratic slow down

Quebec apple farmers are back on track after changes to Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program threatened to put their harvest at risk.

Apple farmers were saved at the last minute when Citizenship and Immigration Canada bowed to pressure from the industry and agreed to speed up the visa process for farm workers.

Just last month, many orchard owners spoke out over concerns they’d be forced to watch their apples rot on their branches because of visa delays.

Some farmers originally expected the permit application process could take up to 16 weeks.

St├ęphanie Levasseur, president of the apple farmers’ union, said Immigration Canada heard their concerns and managed to speed through as many as 300 files in one week.

And while orchard owners are glad this year’s harvest is back on track, some are worried it’s only a short-term fix.

“What we’re afraid of is that the same bureaucratic slow-down will happen again next year,” Levasseur said.

Immigration Canada did not respond to Radio-Canada’s request for an interview.