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What we heard: Primary agriculture review




The Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) Program assists Canadian employers with filling their labour requirements when qualified Canadians and permanent residents are not available and ensures that temporary foreign workers are protected while in Canada. The Program is employer demand-driven and is an option for employers to address immediate skills and labour needs on a temporary basis.

In 1966, the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP) was established to help meet the seasonal labour needs of Canadian agricultural producers. Over time, the SAWP expanded to include workers from Mexico and eleven Caribbean countries, and the Agricultural Stream was created to include workers from all countries.

In 2013, “primary agriculture” was defined in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations as work on/in a farm, nursery or greenhouse that involves the operation of agricultural machinery or the production or harvesting of plants or animals/animal products.

Currently employers can hire a temporary foreign worker for primary agriculture work under four options in the Primary Agriculture Stream:

The Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program
The Agricultural Stream
The Low-Wage Stream
The High-Wage Stream
To access the SAWP or the Agricultural Stream, the agricultural production must be on the National Commodities List (NCL).


Government of Canada, Employment and Social Development Canada

File Attachments


Economic sectors

Agriculture and horticulture workers

Content types

Policy analysis and Past policies

Target groups


Geographical focuses

Canada, Ontario, Alberta, Manitoba, Quebec, British Columbia, Other provinces, Federal, Nova Scotia, and National relevance


French and English