August 7, 2013
Horticulture industry suffers as strike delays worker visas
Striking foreign service workers are causing significant disruption to the Canadian horticulture industry. The current state of the strike has halted the processing of work visas for many people looking to enter Canada. This has directly impacted several employers in the industry by making it impossible for them to complete the processes required to access the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.

Barry Paxton, President of Alpha Better Landscaping Inc. in Calgary, Alta., says, "We are still waiting for 17 work visas that should have been approved by the Canadian Consulate in Mexico five weeks ago. We are 17 people short on our crews, and are unable to fill these positions with Canadian workers."

Companies like Paxton's will also be losing their summer students soon, reducing the number of staff even further. This is creating a desperate need for workers and causing great strain on businesses.

Alpha Better Landscaping's experience is not unique; horticultural businesses across Canada are encountering significant economic hardship due to the strike. Given the seasonal nature of this industry, the need for workers is an immediate concern.

The Canadian Nursery Landscape Association (CNLA) has sent letters to the Government of Canada and the Professional Association of Foreign Service Officers (PAFSO) urging them to go back to the bargaining table to at least make arrangements that allow the processing of work visas to return to normal.

CNLA understands the issues are complex and respects the right to collective action. However, the association is committed to ensuring access to the human resources needed by this industry.