It is launching a new three-year economic immigration pilot that will fill labour shortages, particularly in meat processing and mushroom production, within the agri-food sector and help meet Canada’s ambitious export targets. The new pilot aims to attract and retain workers by providing them with an opportunity to become permanent residents.
Employers in the agri-food sector intending to be part of the pilot will be eligible for a 2-year Labour Market Impact Assessment, and temporary foreign workers will be able to apply under this pilot in early 2020.
On launching the pilot, Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food said: “The success of our Canadian farmers and food processors depends on their ability to recruit and retain the workforce they need to capture opportunities at home and abroad. This pilot will help to ensure that employers in the agriculture and agri-food sector have the people they need to get the job done, to help drive our economy and to feed the world.”
Chris White, president of the Canadian Meat Council (CMC), said: “A year ago, we met with Minister Hussen, Hajdu and MacAulay, industry members, and the union. Our labour shortage and message to help Canada’s food supply became clear to the government. We are thankful for their hard work, their recognition of our labour shortage, and their appreciation for our butchers and Agri-Food sector by announcing this labour pilot.”
Critical impact of shortages
CMC data revealed that the ongoing labour shortage is having critical impacts of lost sales for meat processors of $750m annually, plus $396m in lost sales for its value chain producers, also due to labour shortage, bringing the total economic impacts to the red meat sector to approximately $1.15bn.
“This pilot is vital to our sector. Our members provide year-round, permanent jobs. There’s nothing temporary about our need for a workforce, and the TFW program didn’t work for our members – this pilot gives them a solution,” he said.
CMC estimates that there are more than 1,700 empty butcher workstations across the country among its members. The trade body hopes this pilot will allow them to gain access to TFW that are needed to fill the labour gap and more importantly, allow them to transition to permanent resident status.
In 2018, an Industry Canada’s Agri-Food Economic Strategy Table report highlighted the need to address the immediate labour shortages facing the sector and to modernize Canada’s immigration and temporary foreign worker programs.
White added that it was vital that the domestic workforce also has an opportunity to work in the industry. “It’s important to remember that our members always hire Canadians first. Allowing entry-level butchers means creating more middle-class jobs – which is what this government is all about” he added. “For everyone one temporary foreign worker, we also create four jobs for Canadians.”