Labour shortages have been negatively impacting Canadian agri-businesses, with nearly three-quarters (74 per cent) of agri-business owners working more hours to make up for the lack of staff, according to a new report by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). Nearly half (48 per cent) of agri-businesses have had to turn down sales or contracts due to labour shortages, while 41 per cent have had to decrease service offerings.
To ensure the future of the industry, CFIB is urging policymakers to address chronic labour shortages in agriculture by focusing on the underlying issues exacerbating the problem.
“We need policies that will support our farmers and agri-businesses to ensure the agriculture sector is competitive and productive and the current shortages of labour are prioritized,” said Jasmin Guenette, CFIB’s vice-president of national affairs. “In a recent survey we found that almost two-thirds (61 per cent) of agri-business owners turned to their existing employees to work more hours due to lack of staff.
“The prevailing labour shortages in agriculture must be addressed. It limits productivity and growth and is putting Canada’s food supply at risk.”
In addition to labour shortages, Canadian agri-businesses have also been facing many other challenges. A vast majority (94 per cent) of agri-businesses said the rising prices of inputs have impacted their business. Supply chain challenges are also causing difficulties for 83 per cent of agri-businesses.
CFIB’s Business Barometer also shows that those in the agriculture sector have been the least optimistic about the future of their businesses for six consecutive months.
“Four in five agri-businesses say they would not advise someone to start a business because of labour shortages. This is concerning given the retiring population and lack of youth turning to agriculture for a career,” said Taylor Brown, CFIB senior policy analyst. “We need to ensure agriculture is a viable career path for the next generation of farmers and agri-business professionals.”
As Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) works on addressing chronic labour shortages in agriculture, CFIB urges policymakers to help agri-businesses by:
- Reducing the total tax burden on agri-businesses, including payroll taxes and the federal carbon tax;
- Streamlining and simplifying the Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) and immigration processes and programs to get more workers into Canada faster;
- Providing tax relief for the hiring of older workers and other underrepresented groups; and
- Stimulating automation in agri-businesses through programs or tax credits.
For more information on CFIB’s report, check out Help Wanted: Labour Shortages Threaten the Future of Canadian Agriculture.
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