Getting into the Field: Labour Issues in Agriculture

Quick facts

Issue overview

Like any industry, agriculture requires an adequate workforce to keep operations going. Farmers continue to identify chronic and critical labour shortages as one of the most pressing risks facing Canadian agriculture and a major constraint on both agricultural growth and global competitiveness. Agriculture is complex industry that faces unique workforce challenges due to rural depopulation and seasonal production of highly perishable products.

This issue has been further exacerbated by COVID-19, which saw global travel restrictions. While the government has allowed temporary foreign workers into the country and helped farmers fund the two-week quarantine period upon entry, these workers have arrived in less numbers than usual and not in a timely fashion due to delays and need to quarantine.

COVID has shown that a reliance on foreign labour represents a large vulnerability when travel is restricted, and a National Agri-Food Labour and Automation Strategy will be needed to help combat these problems long-term.

Working toward solutions

CFA continues its work with the Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council (CAHRC), as part of a broad coalition of industry representatives working with government officials towards implementation of a National Agri-Food Labour and Automation Strategy, designed to address the sector’s critical and pervasive labour shortages.

CFA Recommendations

See also:

Canadian Agriculture and Agri-food Workforce Action Plan

Further information on the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, including its history and relationship to Canadian agriculture, can be found here.