Canada may be known for its maple syrup, but when it comes to regional skilled migration, Canada’s programs are a lot sweeter than Australia’s.

The Canadian Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program (SAWP) began over 40 years ago, and is widely recognised as one of the better administered temporary migration programs in the world.

What makes the Canadian SAWP so effective is farmers can hire migrant workers for a maximum period of eight months, offering the workers a minimum of 240 hours of work within a period of six weeks or less to address labour shortages during harvest period.


To qualify for the SAWP, applicants must be citizens from Mexico or participating Caribbean countries, production must be in specific commodity sectors and the activity must be related to on farm primary agriculture.

Many policymakers and scholars who study labour migration view the SAWP as a best-practice model.

This is because of the economic benefits to the local Canadian economy and the positive impact it has on Mexican and Caribbean migrants.

Previous research has revealed that for every SAWP worker it helped generate 2.6 jobs in the supply chain and food processing sectors.

This was because local Canadians’ could only fill around 90 per cent of these jobs, generating a shortage of 9,876 jobs.

If the 9,876 jobs in the Ontario industry were not filled, 25,678 jobs in other sectors would have been lost.

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