By Connor Lynch
CARP — Carp-area farmer Andy Terauds had managed to get his tomatoes in by himself. The cauliflowers are a write-off: They’d started to bolt before being transplanted, so “they’re garbage.” The lettuce is twice as tall as it should be.
Terauds, who farms about 200 acres in the village west of Ottawa, has been waiting about six weeks for three migrant workers to arrive from the Caribbean island of St. Lucia.
They hit a bureaucratic snag, adding up to lost crop and a lot of stress for Terauds. He has about 100,000 different vegetable plants waiting in a greenhouse to be transplanted. If everyone had arrived on time, the work could’ve been done mechanically, with the workers using a machine to plant the crop. Now, it all has to be done by hand. Some of his crops, like the cauliflower, have to be thrown out.
The problem involves new rules the Canadian government has around foreigners coming to Canada. The government started collecting headshot photos and fingerprints in 2013, but only for certain countries. The law expanded to include the Americas last December.
Terauds applied for his workers in December, and was approved by February. But as it turns out, St. Lucia doesn’t have any facilities to take fingerprints. So, those workers had to pay out of pocket for a flight to Trinidad to get their fingerprints recorded.
As of June 12, Terauds said he’d heard one worker should be getting his passport shortly, another one was in the works, and the third he wasn’t sure of.
The delay is a growing pain of the new system, said Western Ontario farmer Ken Forth. Forth is president of the Foreign Agricultural Resource Management Service (FARMS), which helps farmers with the logistics of getting foreign workers. Farmers ran into a similar issue with workers from Jamaica a couple of years ago, he said. But it was a hurdle for most, not a blockage. Jamaica has the facilities to get the required data.
Forth added that the issue seemed to be getting resolved by mid-June. The records are valid for 10 years, so farmers or workers won’t have to jump through the same hoops again next year if they bring back the same workers.
North Gower-area vegetable grower Mel Foster regularly employs migrant workers from Jamaica, and he ran into some issues a few years ago. One worker was held up for about six weeks. But he hasn’t had any issues since.