The Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP) was established in 1974 by the governments of Mexico and Canada to respond to the growing need for labor in the Canadian agricultural sector. In 2004 the thirtieth anniversary of this agreement was be celebrated.

In the course of these years of operation, the number of laborers participating in this program has augmented exponentially. In the beginning of 1974 there were 203 participants, whereas in the 2007 season there were 14,000 out of which around 3,000 developed their activities in the province of Quebec.

The SAWP has succeeded thanks to the accomplishment of quality standards in the services rendered by the Mexican agricultural workers, originating from the majority of the states of the Mexican Republic.

People interested in entering the SAWP must fulfill the following requisites:

  • Be a farmer, journeyman or someone who works in agricultural activity. 
  • Be between the ages of 22 and 45. Hold a minimum third year of primary school education and maximum of third year of secondary school.
  • Be men and women, married or in a de facto union, preferably with children. Also celibate persons who wish to participate may do so if they prove that they have economic dependants.
  • To live in a rural zone.

The Secretaría del Trabajo y Previsión Social (Ministry of Labor and of Social Well Being), through the Servicio Estatal de Empleo (State Employment Service), is the organism in charge of recruiting, choosing and promoting the sending off of agricultural workers to the different provinces of Canada, in accordance with the requirements of the Canadian employers.

From the time of his arrival on the Canadian territory, and until his return to Mexico, and in cooperation with Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, Mexican consular representations have the mandate to supervise the employers in order to ensure that they respect the rights and well being of the workers as well as to help them at all times. This support includes the management of formalities upon arrival, supervision of work relations at their place of employment, assistance in case of medical emergency, advice to facilitate the remittance of monies to Mexico as well as protection when they face situations which affect their rights in general.

The maximum stay allowed for by the Canadian government is of eight months, during which the Mexican workers are placed on different farms of the following provinces: Alberta, Manitoba, Prince Edward Island, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario, Quebec and Saskatchewan, where they are going to develop their activities in the cultivation of vegetables, fruit, tobacco, green houses and apiculture, amongst others.

In accordance with the Memorandum of Understanding that the SAWP has established, the agricultural workers have the right to have access to proper lodgings, to a pre-established salary and to count on work guarantees. They are similarly protected by provincial and federal labor laws and are covered by provincial medical insurance, as well as by life insurance and a private physician.


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