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Skilled trades college program for farming sector in development

Federal and Ontario governments investing more than $750,000 for projects to address labour need for new agri-food professionals in farming sector.


October 5, 2020
By Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs

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The governments of Canada and Ontario announced on Oct. 2 they are investing in several projects that will support labour and training needs in the farming sector, including committing more than $180,000 for the development of a new college program that will provide education and training in the latest agricultural equipment.

Through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP), the federal and provincial governments will assist Conestoga College in Kitchener in the creation, launch and delivery of a pilot program. The program will expand training opportunities for current farm sector employees and better prepare those interested in careers in agriculture to work on farms.

Students will learn skilled trades in high-demand areas, such as spraying and fertilizing operations, custom tillage and harvesting operations. The project is one of several recently approved by the governments to help primary agriculture, food processing companies and food retailers to recruit and train workers who are critical in keeping the province’s essential food supply functioning.

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“Access to skilled labour is critical on farms and in processing facilities, and this pilot program will help farmers meet their labour needs while allowing more Canadians to obtain meaningful and challenging employment in the agricultural and agri-food sector,” said Marie-Claude Bibeau, federal minister of agriculture and agri-food. “A skilled agricultural workforce will unlock the tremendous potential of our agri-food industry, and help our farmers and food processors to continue to drive our economy, create jobs and feed Canada and the world.”

“Supporting those with a passion for a career in agriculture is key to our economy and ensures our food supply chain continues to produce healthy and nutritious food for Ontario families,” said Ernie Hardeman, Ontario minister of agriculture, food and rural affairs.

Through a targeted intake under CAP’s Place to Grow: Agri-Food Innovation Initiative, the federal and Ontario governments have also recently committed up to $594,000 to projects to boost labour supply and training in the agri-food sector. In addition to the Conestoga College program, the governments have approved:

  • • $396,000 for the Ontario Federation of Agriculture to develop a comprehensive support system for businesses in the agriculture and food sector to target communities affected by workforce shortages in the agri-food sector due to COVID-19, including a job-matching and labour-recruiting service;
  • • $198,000 for Food and Beverage Ontario to develop and complete a six-month marketing campaign to build confidence with frontline food workers, support business continuity for Ontario’s food and beverage processing sector, and support the operational stability of Ontario’s food and beverage processing sector during COVID-19 challenges.