British Columbia’s temporary foreign workers are starting to return to the region’s farms, and this year there are plans in place to ensure that their arrival will be safer.
During the Monday COVID-19 update, Dr. Bonnie Henry said: “As you know, we are continuing our program of providing quarantine accommodations in hotels and support for people who have had temporary foreign workers who are coming into B.C. to, to work on farms in the very important role that they play supporting our agriculture industry here in the province.”
In the Okanagan, in particular, the role of temporary agricultural workers is top of mind these days, as farm labour shortages are expected to continue for 2021.
Glen Lucas of the BC Fruit Growers Association: “In addition to COVID-19 challenges, the unemployment rate in Kelowna is very low at 4.6% – the lowest in B.C.,” he said.
“The availability of local labour and Quebecois workers is expected to remain low this summer. BCFGA placed additional effort and resources into recruiting local workers in 2020, without much success.”
Further challenging the workforce, foreign backpackers will continue to face COVID-19 travel restrictions while, at the same time, cherry production is expected to increase significantly from the poor crops of 2019 and 2020.