The federal government has announced some key funding to help resolve agriculture's current workforce challenges.
The impact of the pandemic hit the agriculture and agri-food sector hard, with plant closures, market fluctuations and supply chain delays resulting in a significant shortage and loss of skilled labour.
A Labour Force Survey in December of 2022 showed that 260,600 people were working in the agriculture and agri-food sector, down 12.5% compared to pre-pandemic numbers from February 2020.
Federal Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau has announced over $19.7 million for two agriculture and agri-food projects under the Sectoral Workforce Solutions Program (SWSP).
The Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council is receiving an investment of just over $12 million for their "Growing the Agriculture Workforce of the Future: Cultivating Canada's Post-Pandemic Recovery Project".
The project will help to address labour issues by identifying skills most in need, providing innovative and targeted training programs to 1,175 employers and employees, and by setting sector-wide standards for recruiting and retention.
Paul Glenn, Chair of the Canadian Agricultural Human Resources Council says growing labour shortages impact the success and viability of the Canadian agriculture and agri-food industry.
"The funding announced today will allow CAHRC to action priorities identified by industry in the National Workforce Strategic Plan right away and provide new and innovative training, tools and resources to attract and retain workers in the industry."
Food Processing Skills Canada will receive $7.7 million for their "Achieving our Workforce Destination: Qualified People, Successful Careers & Competitive Business Project".
This project will offer training programs to 1,250 people in the food and beverage processing sector.
It will also develop resources, tools and certifications for supervisors and employees to help improve retention in the industry.
Bibeau says the future of the agriculture and agri-food sectors is contingent on having a skilled and reliable workforce.
"Over these past few years in particular, Canada's agriculture and agri-food sector has faced significant challenges in acquiring workers and maintaining stability. These two very important projects will strengthen this crucial sector for generations to come."
The Labour Force Survey predicts Agriculture's chronic labour shortage is forecasted to grow from 63,000 to as many as 123,000 workers by 2029.