Ottawa, ON – How can farm employers identify, hire and develop qualified workers who enjoy working on farms and are willing to stay? What do farm workers want most to make their work more satisfying and enjoyable, so they will stay? What are the economic impacts of Canada’s agricultural labour shortage nationally, provincially and by commodity? More needs to be known of Canada’s farm labour crisis and what policies, programs and tools are needed to resolve it.

As a follow-up to their 2014 research project, the Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council (CAHRC) is launching a comprehensive Labour Market Information (LMI) survey to examine Canada’s agricultural workforce. The survey will provide up-to-date labour market information including national, provincial and commodity-specific forecasts of agricultural labour supply and demand to 2029. The Conference Board of Canada will conduct the survey on behalf of the Council and is seeking participation from more than 1,000 producers, farm workers and stakeholder organizations.

The short online survey will be open from October 12 to November 30, 2018. Input and perspectives from all facets of the agricultural sector are being sought to help industry, governments and educators come up with labour shortage solutions. Responses are strictly confidential.

“Understanding the evolving needs of producers, farm workers and industry stakeholders is key in resolving the labour challenges facing the agricultural sector,” says Portia MacDonald-Dewhirst, Executive Director of the Council. “The agriculture industry is constantly adapting and progressing. We need to clarify the impacts of new technology, new production techniques, expanding demand, modified regulatory regimes and continued labour constraints in order to know what jobs and skills are required in the future.”

Agriculture is a significant driver of the Canadian economy. In 2017, Statistics Canada reported total farm sales were $61.5 billion. The sector is poised for growth as one of the world’s leading exporters of agriculture and agri-food products with a target value of $75 billion by 2025. However, no other sector in Canada faces as many labour challenges as agriculture.

Results from the 2014 LMI research indicated that 26,400 jobs went unfilled in Canada’s agriculture sector, which cost the sector $1.5 billion in lost revenues, or 2.7%of product sales. This labour gap is expected to grow to 114,000 workers by 2025. Resolving the labour crisis is imperative for the agricultural industry to move forward and reach its potential.

Retirement and transition planning along with the inability to find people interested in farming is a huge problem. The primary barriers to recruiting and retaining farm workers have been identified as the seasonal nature of the work and that farms are often located in rural areas. As a result of this labour shortage, farm businesses are increasingly unable to produce to capacity or expand to meet growing market demand. 

“This survey will augment the previous LMI research and will provide valuable data to track ongoing employment needs of farmers and farm workers so that policies, programs, tools and resources can be developed to meet those needs,” explains Debra Hauer, AgriLMI Project Manager. Completed LMI research findings are available on the CAHRC web site and the new results will be released in the spring of 2019.

Funded in part by the Government of Canada’s Sectoral Initiatives Program, the Council is collaborating with producers, farm workers, federal and provincial government departments, leading agriculture organizations and agricultural colleges and training providers to ensure that the labour needs of the agri-food industry are fully understood and addressed.

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The Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council (CAHRC) is a national, non-profit organization focused on addressing human resource issues facing agricultural businesses across Canada. Industry participation is the cornerstone of CAHRC, working with agriculture industry leaders, governments and educational stakeholders to research, develop and communicate solutions to the challenges in employment and skills development in the agriculture industry. CAHRC leads collaborative implementation efforts in support of the Canadian Agriculture and Agri-Food Workforce Action Plan for the sector. For more information visit www.cahrc-ccrha.ca


For more information contact:
Debra Hauer, Manager, AgriLMI, CAHRC
T: 613-745-7457 ext. 227  E : Hauer@cahrc-ccrha.ca
Portia MacDonald-Dewhirst, Executive Director, CAHRC
T: 613-745-7457 ext. 222   E: macdonald-dewhirst@cahrc-ccrha.ca
Theresa Whalen, Communications & Marketing Specialist, CAHRC
C: 613-325-7321  E: twhalen@cahrc-ccrha.ca