NEWS: Government of Canada launches consultations to inform the National Agricultural Labour Strategy

Canada’s agriculture and agri-food sector is an important engine of economic growth that feeds millions of people in Canada and around the world. It is also part of the country’s critical infrastructure, essential to the health and well-being of all Canadians. Today, the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, launched consultations to solicit input and inform a National Agricultural Labour Strategy.

The agriculture and agri-food sector faces obstacles that distinguish it from other economic sectors currently facing labour shortages. As part of the engagement process, an online consultation will open on June 27, 2022 and run until September 28, 2022. This process will seek input on recommendations to address chronic workforce challenges to build short- and long-term solutions that enable the agriculture sector to attract a skilled workforce. Provinces and territories, as well as employers, unions, underrepresented groups, workers, and other key groups will be engaged to develop the strategy and ensure it reflects the unique needs of the sector.

A number of areas of focus have been identified, including the use of automation and technology, targeted skills development and training, employment incentives and best practices, improved working conditions and benefits; and programs to recruit and retain workers.

The sector is already demonstrating leadership in tackling these challenges, through initiatives such as the Canadian Agriculture Human Resource Council-led development of a National Workforce Strategic Plan for Agriculture and Food and Beverage Manufacturing. The Government of Canada’s National Agricultural Labour Strategy is intended to complement these efforts and utilize input directly from industry to achieve solutions.

The Government of Canada is committed to taking concrete action in addressing the ongoing labour challenges facing the country’s agriculture and agri-food sector and to best position the sector for future growth.

Quick Facts

  • Canada’s food system is resilient and innovative, sustains our environment and supports our economy. In 2020, the whole agriculture and agri-food system:
    • employed 2.1 million people
    • provided 1 in 9 jobs in Canada
    • in 2021, the sector generated $135 billion of Canada’s gross domestic product (GDP)
  • In April, the Government of Canada announced further changes to the Temporary Foreign Workers Program to address labour shortages across Canada.
  • In Canada, temporary foreign workers represented around one-quarter of all agriculture workers in 2021. In the food and beverage manufacturing sector, temporary foreign workers represented about one-tenth of the total number of employees.

Additional Links

Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Mandate Letter

Canadian Agriculture Human Resource Council: National Workforce Strategy for Agriculture and Food and Beverage Manufacturing being developed

Statistics Canada: 2021 Census of Agriculture

Step up to the Plate

Government of Canada announces Workforce Solutions Road Map – further changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program to address labour shortages across Canada