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B.C. driving ag labour retention with new initiative

June 28, 2023  By Government of British Columbia

A new workforce initiative will support British Columbia’s agriculture and food industry in recruiting and retaining the workers who will help provide a stable food supply for a growing population in B.C. and around the world.

“The demand for B.C. food and beverage products continues to grow, and we need to address labour challenges now so we can continue to rely on B.C.’s agriculture and food sector in the future,” said Pam Alexis, provincial minister of agriculture and food, in a press release. “Our government is working hard to increase the number of B.C. agriculture workers so we will have a safe and resilient local food supply for generations to come.”

The Agriculture and Food Workforce Development Initiative will provide as much as $15 million to help strengthen the workforce by:

  • improving recruitment and retention of domestic workers and supporting targeted training to develop a skilled workforce;
  • implementing labour-market development strategies and workforce plans; and
  • supporting the health and well-being of the agriculture and food workforce.

AgSafe is the first organization supported under the new program. It will receive $755,000 to expand mental-health services to the B.C. agriculture sector. This funding will support the expansion of AgSafe’s mental wellness in agriculture initiative, which encourages producers to reach out for help and offers mental wellness resources for the agricultural community.

“The ongoing labour shortage in the agriculture sector will be detrimental to the livelihoods of thousands of farmers and ranchers in our province if we don’t act now,” said David Mutz, berry farmer, B.C. Agriculture Council director, and chair of the council’s labour committee. “In fact, just half a decade ago, we faced a shortage of just over 3,000 agriculture workers, but by the end of this decade, the number of unfilled jobs is expected to increase dramatically, nearly five-fold, to over 15,000 missing workers in the agriculture sector.

The Agriculture and Food Workforce Development Initiative is funded by the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction, and delivered by the Investment Agriculture Foundation of B.C.

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