February 17th, 2023, OTTAWA – The Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) was pleased to see the announcement earlier this week by the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Marie-Claude Bibeau of investment in two critical projects that will help address the chronic labour issues in Canada’s agriculture and food and beverage manufacturing sectors.
The investment is for two projects which will complement the work of the industry-led National Workforce Strategic Framework for Agriculture and Food and Beverage Manufacturing:
- $13.25M for the Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council’s “Growing the Agriculture Workforce of the Future: Cultivating Canada’s Post-Pandemic Recovery”
- $8.35M for Food Processing Skills Canada’s “Achieving our Workforce Destination: Qualified People, Successful Careers & Competitive Business”.
Labour has been a chronic issue in the agriculture sector for decades. With access to labour becoming a pervasive issue across Canada, these issues are only expected to become worse for producers who have a difficult time attracting workers due to their location, the seasonal nature of work and the intensity of work required during peak seasons. A lack of labour has hampered the agriculture sectors growth potential, even as it has been repeatedly identified as a key sector for growth by the Government of Canada. .
In a recent survey by CAHRC, they found that 40 per cent of agriculture employers in 2021 reported not being able to fill vacancies and the industry suffered earning losses of $2.9B in total sales, directly attributable to unfilled vacancies tied to the pandemic. This is nearly double the $1.5B in lost sales estimated in 2014.
“The current trends we’re seeing, with the labour gap in agriculture increasing year-over-year, are not sustainable and cannot be left to continue. Canada has an envious wealth of agricultural natural resources, and as our nation and the world contend with increasingly common erratic weather events, it’s imperative that our food production systems are resilient and secure so that Canada can fulfill its role as a global leader in the supply of quality agriculture products.” said Mary Robinson, CFA President.
“As our industry continues to develop a National Workforce Strategy Framework for Agriculture and Food and Beverage Manufacturing, which will contain actionable solutions to address the chronic labour issues in the food supply chain in the short and long-term. The recently announced funding will help to rapidly implement some of these solutions, resulting in better understanding and anticipation of the labour needs of our respective industries moving forward.”