Canada’s SAWP

Canada’s Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program (SAWP) has employed seasonal agricultural workers from the Mexico and Caribbean since 1966. It has had mixed reviews but provides the most promise of new initiatives as it describes itself as a model of best practice in migrant worker participation. It is a significantly larger scheme, it provides for the recruitment of over 15,000 migratory short-term agricultural workers (North South Institute, n.d.), in comparison with 8,000 workers in the RSE. There are however some stark similarities. It is apparent that the Canadian scheme would have been utilised during development of the RSE. Both schemes require employers to apply to recruit, prove a direct labour shortage and then take full responsibility for subsequent worker support. Now that the RSE scheme has proved successful, it may be able to draw on the Canadian scheme for more long-term interventions. The CSAWP has been running since the 1960’s and has the advantage of being well established. It has its own governing body – Foreign Agricultural Resource Management Services (F.A.R.M.S). One important consideration is that Canadian farmers are required to contribute much more to employees, sometimes paying for accommodation costs and airfares. This suggests that New Zealand is more attractive to migrant workers, and is also due to the close proximity of the Pacific.