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CAHRC receives funding to develop central labour data for Ontario’s agri-food sector

The goal of CAHRC's two-year project is to assist Ontario’s agriculture and agri-food industry in addressing increasing labour shortages and identifying future skills needed to work in the sector.


May 8, 2020
By Fruit and Vegetable

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The governments of Canada and Ontario are providing $350,000 in funding to the Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council (CAHRC) to develop a common set of labour data for Ontario’s agri-food sector to use and assist the industry to prepare their own labour action plans.

The $350,000 investment in labour market research and resources is provided through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership. In April, the governments of Canada and Ontario announced up to $1 million in new funding to connect workers with jobs in the agri-food sector to keep supply chains strong and store shelves stocked during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The agriculture sector in Ontario supports 97,800 jobs in primary agriculture including 28,800 temporary foreign workers, and over 101,000 jobs in food and beverage processing in 2018. In past weeks, the COVID-19 crisis has accentuated labour shortages in the sector. Many agriculture and agri-food employers consider labour shortages as their top issue as they deal with the fallout from the current crisis.

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The goal of CAHRC’s two-year project is to assist Ontario’s agriculture and agri-food industry in addressing increasing labour shortages while preparing Ontarians with the future skills needed to work in the sector.

“Today’s jobs in agriculture and food production are diverse, rewarding, and employ many different skill sets,” said Marie-Claude Bibeau, minister of agriculture and agri-food, in a released statement. “This investment will help grow the sector’s workforce and ensure Ontarians have the necessary skills to start fulfilling careers in agriculture.”

The CAHRC explains that information about labour markets are described in many ways and can be confusing to job seekers and employers. Their project will develop a common framework for describing the agricultural and agri-food labour market so that job seekers and agri-food employers can understand where the jobs are and the skills needed to work in the sector.

The project will also develop and pilot templates for industry associations to use to develop their own subsector workforce action plans. The action plans will be able to assist employers to find and keep workers, and help their workforce to adapt to emerging skills that will be needed in the coming decade. Ultimately, according to CAHRC, these workforce action plans will help the agriculture and agri-food industry secure a highly skilled workforce to grow the industry in future years.

“Ontario’s bright production outlook for agriculture is dependent on ensuring there are enough workers to actuate the sector’s growth potential,” explains Portia MacDonald-Dewhirst, executive director of CAHRC, in a released statement. “This project will let us assess the current needs, then develop programs and training opportunities to prepare the up-and-coming workforce for an exciting and satisfying career in agriculture while filling that labour gap.”