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Farms may use workers currently on social assistance

P.E.I. is looking at Nova Scotia as a template

By Diego Flammini
Assistant Editor, North American Content

Prince Edward Island’s farmers could receive some help in the form of local workers who are currently on social assitance.

If the program is approved, it would be similar to the Harvest Connection program already ongoing in Nova Scotia.

Under the program, people with social assistance benefits would be able to work in the agriculture industry by harvesting crops and earn up to $3,000 annually without affecting their benefits.

Farmer in field

Tina Mundy, P.E.I.’s minister of Family Services and Seniors told CBC that such a program has value and if the province’s ag industry is interested, then partnerships will be explored.

A recent report commissioned by the Canadian Agriculture Human Resources Council estimates Canada’s ag industry is short nearly 60,000 employees. Agriculture and Fisheries minister Alan McIsaac said a program like Harvest Connection could help with the annual shortage of farm workers in the province.

The idea of bringing a program similar to Harvest Connection to P.E.I. dates back to 2014 when the province’s Federation of Agriculture called on Ottawa to help with a long-term human resource strategy regarding farm workers.

In a September 2014 interview with CBC, John Jamieson, then P.E.I. Federation of Agriculture executive director, said wages, the phyisicality of the work and an aging population contribute to the lower number of farm workers.

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