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CAHRC researches farm labour shortage, solutions

November 18, 2014  By Press release

November 18, 2014, Ottawa, Ont – How much farm work is done by family members and how much by employees? What work is being done by domestic and/or foreign workers? Is there a growing reliance on hiring employees to support farm operations? What labour challenges are facing producers today? More needs to be known about who does the work on farms in Canada.

The Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council (CAHRC) is launching a comprehensive Labour Market Information (LMI) research survey to examine Canada’s agricultural workforce from every commodity and region across the country. The Conference Board of Canada Canada will conduct the survey on behalf of the council, and is seeking participation from more than 1,000 producers, farm workers and stakeholder organizations from November 12 through to January 22, 2015.

All producers across Canada are encouraged to complete the short, online survey at to ensure their farm’s needs are included in this important work that will help government and educators meet future farm labour requirements. Responses are strictly confidential.


“It is imperative that we get an accurate picture of the agricultural employment needs in Canada and the best way to do that is to go directly to the producers themselves,” says Portia MacDonald-Dewhirst, executive director of the council. “Understanding their evolving needs is the first step in resolving the labour challenges facing primary agriculture. Once we clarify agriculture’s labour requirements for the short, medium and long term, relevant initiatives can be implemented with confidence by industry stakeholders to ensure the future viability and growth of Canadian farms.”

In a report soon to be released by the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, labour issues are identified as the number one priority facing the Canadian agriculture industry today. At issue is the lack of clear labour market information for the agriculture industry that quantifies the chronic shortages facing Canada’s agricultural businesses and accurately forecasts those requirements for the next 10 years by province, commodity and occupation. By understanding these workforce needs, the agricultural industry will be better able to develop policies and programs to meet demands. For more information visit

“By participating in this research, agricultural business owners will also clarify employee turnover rates by commodity and province,” explains MacDonald-Dewhirst. “This will result in benchmarks employers can use to assess their own businesses. Producers will be able to compare their own rate of employee turnover with those of other agricultural enterprises in their region or in their commodity and assess the economic impact of employee turnover on their business.”

Funded by the Government of Canada’s Sectoral Initiatives Program, the council is collaborating on this three-year project with federal and provincial government departments, more than 30 of Canada’s leading agriculture organizations, and agricultural colleges and training providers to ensure that the needs of industry are fully understood and addressed.

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