February 15, 2023 – Ottawa, ON – The Canadian Agricultural HR Council (CAHRC) is very pleased to share that Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) has funded Growing the Agriculture Workforce of the Future: Cultivating Canada’s Post-Pandemic Recovery. This funding is part of ESDC’s Sectoral Workplace Solutions Program (SWSP) that helps key sectors of the economy implement solutions to address their current and emerging workforce needs.
Labour continues to be the most serious systemic issue facing Canada’s agriculture and agri-food industry. Like other industries, agriculture and agri-food is struggling to attract workers from a limited and shrinking labour pool. Chronic labour shortages and serious skills gaps are undermining Canada’s ability to maintain current levels of food production and constraining the industry’s ability to add value to commodities produced in Canada. In fact, 40 per cent of employers surveyed in primary agriculture in CAHRC’s 2021 Understanding the Effects of COVID-19 on Canada’s Agriculture Workforce research 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 recorded in 2014. This in turn is threatening local food security and weakening the sector’s future economic development and trade growth.
“The Canadian agriculture and agri-food industry is an economic driver for Canada while at the same time feeding Canadians and the globe,” said Paul Glenn, Chair of the Canadian Agricultural Human Resources Council. “Industry has come together through the National Workforce Strategic Plan to identify actions to address the chronic labour shortage and ensure the industry has the workforce to remain a global leader in the supply of sustainable, quality agriculture and food products. The funding provided by ESDC through the Sectoral Workplace Solutions Program (SWSP) will allow for the swift implementation of many of these actions identified by industry in the Plan.”
“The increasing shortage of workers in agriculture and agri-food makes building and maintaining a stable, skilled workforce the top industry priority. Every activity included in this funding announcement supports key priorities identified by industry through the National Workforce Strategy for Ag, and Food and Beverage Manufacturing and AAFC's Ag and Agri-Food Skills Table,” said Jennifer Wright, Executive Director of CAHRC. “This funding ensures some of these priorities will be actioned quickly. It is also supported by more than seventy-five industry stakeholders that provided letters of support for this work.”
This 17-month project supports solutions to workforce challenges in the agriculture sector by:
- Forecasting labour market shortages and skills needs,
- Developing an inventory of current and future skills needs,
- Developing training programs for job seekers and new employees.
- Expanding CAHRC’s HR Management program and developing a recognition program for employers.
CAHRC is very thankful to Government of Canada for supporting this critical work for the agriculture and agri-food industry and looks forward to engaging with our industry partners to deliver this important work.
The Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council (CAHRC) is a national, non-profit organization focused on addressing human resource issues facing agricultural businesses across Canada. The Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council works with industry leaders, governments and educational stakeholders to research, develop and communicate solutions to the challenges in employment and skills development in primary agriculture
The Council represents farming in all its forms: raising traditional and non-traditional livestock; producing, cultivating, growing, harvesting or collecting conventional and non-conventional agriculture commodities; and any practices performed as an integral part of an agricultural operation.
For more information visit www.cahrc-ccrha.ca.