Consultation phase launched for National Agricultural Labour Strategy
By Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
On June 27, Marie-Claude Bibeau, minister of agriculture and agri-food, 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 is now open and will run until September 28. 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.
“As everyone is looking to Canada to increase its contribution to global food security, our agriculture and agri-food sector is facing a severe labour shortage that prevents it from reaching its full potential,” Bibeau said. “I encourage all stakeholders to take part in these consultations, through which our government wishes to foster the significant engagement of the industry and ensure that together we put in place effective and sustainable solutions.”
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.
“Canada’s agricultural sector feeds millions of people each year, and is a huge driver of our national economy,” said Carla Qualtrough, minister of employment, workforce development and disability inclusion. “To ensure it can continue to grow and innovate, we’re working with industry partners to build the strong, skilled workforce they need to thrive.”
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.