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Canada’s Seasonal Agricultural Workers Programme, commonly referred to as the Canadian Farm Labour Programme, started as a private initiative in the early 60’s when Ontario farmers recruited Jamaican workers to work on their tobacco plantations. This approach proved to be disorganized and costly and in 1966, the Canadian government assumed control of the programme. The programme provided Canada with a cost efficient way of sourcing contractual agricultural workers on a seasonal basis, to meet the short-term demand of manual labour during the peak planting and harvesting seasons.

In this programme, workers engage in a wide array of agricultural activities and deal mainly with fruits, vegetables and tobacco. Their tasks involve cultivating, pruning, spraying, irrigation, fertilization, harvesting, hand-thinning, grading etc.

The Canadian Farm Labour Programme is more than an employment opportunity but an amazing life experience as its participants forge valuable friendships and relationships within their Canadian communities. It presents an amazing an opportunity to temporarily live overseas and be exposed to different culture.



The employer pays for the airfare and makes all the necessary travel arrangements.


The employer is responsible for providing clean living accommodations to the workers, without cost. These accommodations must satisfy the health and housing standards of the province in which the farm is located. It must also meet the expectations of the local liaison service, which represents the Government of Barbados in Canada.


The employer is responsible for providing appropriate meals to each worker at a cost that must not exceed CAD $ 7.00 (BBD $ 13.23). The worker could also choose to prepare his/her own meals. In this case, the employer is responsible for providing the cooking facilities, utensils and fuel without cost.

After five (5) consecutive hours of employment, each employee is entitled to a meal break of at least thirty (30) minutes and to two rest periods for ten (10) minutes in both mid-morning and mid-afternoon.

Period of Employment & Working Hours

Under this programme, the period of employment can be no longer than eight (8) months nor less than 240 hours over six weeks or less. However, if an emergency situation arises, a specific exemption could be granted to the employer by the Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC), the agency responsible for administering this programme on behalf of the Government of Canada.

An employer may require a worker to be on probation during a trial period of seven (7) actual working days from the date of arrival at the farm. During this period, the employer cannot discharge the worker except for misconduct or refusal to work.

The average minimum work week is forty (40) hours. For every six consecutive days of work, an employee is entitled to one day of rest.

Wages & Deductions

The wages are paid weekly in Canadian dollars at a rate which is equal to the following, whichever is the greatest:

The wage established by the law of the province within which the place of employment is located; or
The rate determined annually by HRSDC to be paid for the type of agricultural work being carried out by the worker
The rate being paid by the employer to his regular seasonal work force performing the same type of agricultural work.

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Post Author: Nelzine Brown

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