The Canadian Meat Council (CMC) has welcomed the move by the Government of Canada, which is to introduce a three-year Agri-Food Immigration Pilot to bring in full-time, non-seasonal agriculture workers that will include a pathway to permanent residency.
CMC said it had been advocating the need for such a program that would help the sector deal with the “critical and chronic shortage” of butchers and solve the issues with the current Temporary Foreign Workers (TFW) Program.
“This pilot is vital to our sector. Our members provide year-round, permanent jobs. There’s nothing temporary about meat processing’s workforce requirements,” said Chris White, president of CMC.
“We currently have over 1,700 vacancies to fill, with 900 butchers looking for permanent residency – this immigration Pilot will provide a pathway to residency for butchers in all provinces, which isn’t available to us right now.”
While the details of the pilot haven’t been announced, CMC said it had been asking for 2,750 immigration spots for three years as Canadian meat processing needed more butchers to remain competitive.
“Canadian meat processors need to be competitive in a global market where Canada’s brand is in high demand,” said White. “Canada is signing trade agreements, and, in order to meet our new export opportunities, we need more butchers. These butcher jobs go to Canadians first. If Canadians do not apply, we still need butchers to cut meat for Canadian consumers and our customers abroad.”
Meat processing is Canada’s largest food and beverage manufacturing employer with 64,500 workers in rural and urban areas across Canada in 2015.
Red meat consumption and exports supported 288,000 jobs in Canada in 2016, generating CA$6 billion in annual revenues.
Last year, Industry Canada’s Agri-Food Economic Strategy Table report highlighted the need to address the labour shortages facing the sector and to modernise Canada’s immigration and temporary foreign worker programs.