The Canadian Agricultural Human Resources Council has just published the results of a major investigation into labour shortages in agriculture in Canada. The full report is Agriculture 2025: How the Sector’s Labour Challenges Will Shape its Future.
At present, the supply of Canadians willing to work on farms is 59,000 less than the demand. Most of this shortage is now supplied by temporary foreign workers.
This shortage has doubled from 30,000 ten years ago.
The shortage of domestic workers for employment on Canadian farms is projected to double again by 2025 – to 114,000 jobs.
One might view this situation as an example of globalization. Often we hear of enterprises which move to another country to access labour. The Canadian agriculture sector is bringing workers to the enterprise in Canada. One obvious advantage is that employment is created for Canadian residents for year round jobs in management, marketing, transportation and processing.
Canada’s agriculture sector increasingly relies on foreign workers to address these labour shortages. According to the report,
“In 2014, the sector filled about three-quarters of its labour gap with this labour source, and more than one in ten people in Canada’s agricultural workforce (12%) were foreign workers.” (p. 3)
Ontario faces the largest shortage
According to this report, Ontario will be particularly hard hit by the growing labour gap, with an expected future 46,000 jobs at risk. Ontario’s numbers are much higher than any other province. Alberta, the province with the second-largest share across Canada, is predicted to have less than half that many jobs at risk.
Copied from Canadian Agriculture Human Resources Council, Canada’s Agriculture Sector Labour Market Forecast to 2025, http://www.cahrc-ccrha.ca/sites/default/files/files/Labour-Employment/factsheet_NAT_E.pdf
Addressing the labour shortage
Various suggestions are offered to address the increasing labour shortage:
- encouraging young people to work in agriculture – specifically, “biology with a job!”
- encouraging more workers to transfer from other sectors to agriculture
- facilitate the employment of disadvantaged groups in agriculture by fostering conversations with employers and by designing mentorship programs for potential workers
- continue to welcome temporary foreign workers for seasonal employment in the Canadian sector with the greatest seasonal fluctuation of labour demand
By Ray Bollman