Okanagan farmers facing shortage of Mexican workers

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Okanagan orchardists dealing with foreign workers shortage
Okanagan orchardists dealing with foreign workers shortage – May 2, 2018

Every year, Okanagan farmers employ about 2,500 seasonal agricultural workers from Mexico, but not this year.

Some farmers said they can’t get any Mexican workers this year and they are getting desperate.

Kelowna fruit farmer Sukhjit Sidhu is one of them.

“I have no workers. I don’t know how we will survive,” he said.

Up until this season, Sukhjit has been able to hire people from Mexico but the system for getting Mexican migrant workers into Canada has become bogged down.

Kelowna councillor Mohini Signh said she’s hearing from farmers that they are frustrated. She said the finger pointing has begun with no solution in sight.

The farmers are blaming the Mexican authorities and the Canadian authorities. The whole process has been slowed down,” she said.

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The Mexican government maintains a large part of the problem originates from changes the Canadian government made — not Mexico.

In a statement to Global News it said: “In 2018 the Federal Government of Canada changed the process of how work permits for Mexican Seasonal Agricultural Workers are issued in Mexico City. Mexican and Canadian authorities are in permanent communication, adapting to the new process, which is currently experiencing a backlog.”

MP Stephen Fuhr said he’s met with the Mexican consulate in an attempt to clear the backlog. Representatives from BC Fruit Growers Association are also in Ottawa doing the same.

However, the clock is ticking for farmers like Sukhjit Sidhu and time is something that he doesn’t have. All he can do now is plead.

“I need workers. Please do something as soon as possible,” Sidhu said.

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