Montreal

Quebec apple season spared from changes to Temporary Foreign Worker Program

Quebec's apple orchard owners are back on track after changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program threatened to put their harvest at risk.

Orchard owners worried short-term fix means next year's harvest will see same bureaucratic slow down

A worker on a farm in St-Paul-d'Abbotsford, Que. picks apples during the 2015 harvest. (CBC News)

Quebec apple farmers are back on track after changes to Canada's Temporary Foreign Worker Program threatened to put their harvest at risk.

Apple farmers were saved at the last minute when Citizenship and Immigration Canada bowed to pressure from the industry and agreed to speed up the visa process for farm workers.

Just last month, many orchard owners spoke out over concerns they'd be forced to watch their apples rot on their branches because of visa delays.

Some farmers originally expected the permit application process could take up to 16 weeks.

Stéphanie Levasseur, president of the apple farmers' union, said Immigration Canada heard their concerns and managed to speed through as many as 300 files in one week. 

And while orchard owners are glad this year's harvest is back on track, some are worried it's only a short-term fix.

"What we're afraid of is that the same bureaucratic slow-down will happen again next year," Levasseur said.

Immigration Canada did not respond to Radio-Canada's request for an interview.

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