The headlines of a few days ago read Foreign Workers are not coming. The Mexican Government hit the pause button. That is only partly true, and only part of the problem. Over the past couple of days I have begun to separate fact from confusion.
The pause button is on for those who did not complete the protocol requirements prior to applying for workers. In BC for example the process has gone smoother because the Province has taken a more active role when it comes to foreign workers.
I will deal with this first in order to put things in perspective.
There are three levels of oversight in view of the pandemic. First the BC Government has first hand involvement with the quarantine. The second step is farmers must provide a detailed list of precautions and a risk assessment. The third step is an inspection process.
The problem might not be the paperwork and process. There is a service problem. The Covid spread is serious in Mexico. Buses aren’t running, travel between states is restricted and offices issuing passports are closed. This mean some workers will get here but many will not.
So on to the domestic worker shortfalls. The season is about to begin. Where are the workers that usually fill out the work shortages? The pandemic has thrown everything off track. It could be they are still tree planting later this year. It could also be many workers are not traveling because of the risk.
Some communities are prepared for the annual influx of workers some are not. There is speculation about space due to distancing. The same rules apply for foreign and domestic workers. This is an opportunity for local people who prior to the pandemic never thought of the agriculture industry.
There will be a shortage of workers according to everyone I talked to so there is an opportunity for students, the unemployed and seniors. Another thought I had was some service clubs might want to participate to make money for their programs. I have a few friends who can’t pick fruit for a variety of reasons. There are also fruit thinning jobs that will be available.
Some will be asking how do I find out which farmers need help?
Some years ago the BC Fruit Growers Association created a program to match domestic workers with farmers. There are positions available throughout the growing area and more will be available in the coming days and weeks, for both picking and thinning. There is a need for apple thinners in the Oliver area now and for cherry pickers shortly. To find out more about job placement contact Ron Forrest at 778 363 3620 or go on Facebook and enter roald forrest – And yes the service is free.