Red Delicious apple harvest in Summerland, 2016. (Summerland Review)

COVID-19: B.C. too dependent on foreign food production workers

New B.C. job site links unemployed with farm, seafood work

Border disruptions due to the coronavirus pandemic have B.C. facing a shortfall of up to 8,000 temporary foreign workers this year, Agriculture Minister Lana Popham says.

The province has launched a new website that Popham says will provide a one-stop shop for agriculture and food production jobs. The site, www.bcagjobs.bc.ca, already has 600 positions available as B.C. agriculture moves from the pruning and planting stage toward harvest.

“COVID-19 has brought into focus for many of us our province’s food security,” Popham said May 28. “It has shone a bright light on the need for our province to become more self-sufficient, more sustainable and resilient.”

The jobs go beyond the familiar seasonal fruit picking and other harvesting jobs that urban people hear about.

“We have jobs like cherry production line worker in the Okanagan, a tractor operator in Surrey, a dairy farm worker in Black Creek, a farm manager in Creston, a farm supervisor in Quesnel, a fish processing plant worker in North Vancouver, a greenhouse worker in Delta or a berry picker in the Fraser Valley,” Popham said.

RELATED: COVID-19 outbreak at Okanagan nursery over

RELATED: Ottawa pays $50M for foreign worker quarantine

Berry crops are some of the first to ripen in B.C., and among the most labour intensive to harvest.

“B.C. berry growers are facing a serious labour shortage this season due to COVID-19, and this website is a good idea to let people know we are hiring and looking for their help,” said Parm Bains, owner of Westberry Farms, a blueberry producer in the Fraser Valley. “The berry industry urgently needs seasonal workers interested in harvesting and packing jobs. Many farms also have longer-term positions available in field and crop management and quality control.”

Farm operators on Vancouver Island and elsewhere in B.C. also noted the unintended effect of Ottawa’s broad-based and Canadian Emergency Response Benefit. They signed up students for seasonal work and then saw many decline the work once $2,000 a month in temporary benefits became available with few conditions or checks on the connection between unemployment and COVID-19.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislatureCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Kelowna taxpayers could pay $90K for losses caused by cancelled Memorial Cup

$135,000 would be put aside for a potential bid for a future opportunity to host the tournament

Predator mutilated cats in Kelowna: BC SPCA

The BC SPCA confirmed a mutilated cat was killed by a predator

Emergency crews conduct CPR on unresponsive person in Okanagan Lake

West Kelowna emergency crews are on scene at the shores of Jubilee Mobile Home Park

Kelowna woman’s dog attacked by unlicensed pit bull: RDCO

Kelowna resident Yuli Lavigne shared a social media post detailing the attack on her dog

B.C. appeals judge’s decision to leave three clubhouses in Hells Angels hands

The province has filed two notices of appeal related to the B.C. Supreme Court decision

B.C. identifies 20 new COVID-19 cases, travellers specified in count

Pandemic total 3,028 cases, 51 people from outside Canada

Canadian policing organization calls for decriminalization of simple illicit drug possession

Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police want policing focus of opioid crisis to be replaced with a health one

Motorcycle rider seriously injured in collision with vehicle on Highway 97 west of Pritchard

Chase RCMP report that motorcycle was attempting to pass when crash occurred

LETTER: Former Summerland mayors speak out on solar project

Five former Summerland mayors sign name to short letter

Filing deadline in RCMP sexual-harassment class-action extended due to COVID-19

Plaintiffs now have until January 2021 to submit claims for up to $222,000

Jamie Bacon pleads guilty to charge in Surrey Six case

The plea brings an end to a complex legal case that has spanned more than a decade

$500 fine for Vernon man caught near Coldstream playground

Richard Slobodian, 58, served one night in jail and ordered to pay for breaching probation

Summerland Museum reopens

Museum to open on July 15 with reduced operating hours

House arrest for Vernon physiotherapist guilty of sexual assault

Stephen Witvoet to serve 18-month conditional sentencing following July 8 hearing

Most Read