Tree fruit growers in the British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley typically require about 3,300 seasonal workers annually. But working with foreign migrants who come to Canada under the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP) is different than working with domestic migrants.
Participating farms must demonstrate an inability to find suitable local workers, for example, usually by showing ads placed, correspondence with employment centers and similar documentation.
—provide at least 240 hours worth of work to a minimum of two workers with SAWP;
—provide housing that meets government standards and passes muster with either a municipal inspector, commercial inspection service, or third-party inspector;
—pay workers’ return airfare from Mexico (usually about Can. $1,100), and provide rides to and from job sites, if necessary;
—provide medical insurance and access to medical care; and
—pay wages of at least $8.60 an hour, plus 4 percent for vacation pay.
Growers cannot transfer workers to another grower more than once a season.
Growers are allowed to recover the cost of visas ($150 per worker, Canadian funds); 6 percent of each worker’s accommodation costs to a maximum of $450 per season; a portion of meals; and health insurance, which is granted by a private insurer at a rate of 50 cents a day.
Workers are obliged to pay workers’ compensation fees and premiums for employment insurance and government pension plans.