Fruit & Vegetable Magazine

COVID-19 Updates News Labour
Ontario announces $1M in funding to support recruiting efforts in ag sector

The funding will go toward projects that are identifying tactics that will boost the labour capacity, skillsets, and supply within the province's agricultural sector.


April 20, 2020
By Fruit and Vegetable

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The governments of Canada and Ontario are investing 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.

Through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership (the Partnership), the federal and provincial governments will provide support that will help people connect with job opportunities in the sector quickly.

The funding will go toward projects that are identifying tactics that will boost the labour capacity, skillsets, and supply within the province’s agricultural sector. This program would help primary agriculture, food processing companies and grocery retail to recruit and train workers who are important to keeping the essential food supply chain functioning.

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Through the Partnership’s Place to Grow: Agri-Food Innovation Initiative, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) will immediately accept applications and will expedite the approval process to help address sector labour concerns quickly. This targeted intake began accepting applications on April 17, 2020 and eligible applications will be received and assessed on a continuous basis, while funding is available.

Eligible projects can:

  • Investigate challenges related to accessing labour and identifying ways to increase access to suitable labour supply and labour retention
  • Find better ways to reach target audiences
  • Pilot new training approaches for subsectors within agriculture that focus on building specific job skills to attract or retain suitable workers

In essence, the funding will be used toward finding ways to help Ontario’s agriculture and agri-food sector fill positions with suitable workers. The Ontario government says project proposals should also consider the existing skills and training programming opportunities already available within the province, such as Skills Advance Ontario.

“The women and men who work on farms, in processing plants and throughout the food production chain, are doing an essential service for us during this critical time and we are thankful for their dedication and hard work,” said Marie-Claude Bibeau, federal minister of agriculture and agri-food. “There is a strong need for workers on Canadian farms and in food processing businesses right now and our Government is taking concrete actions to find solutions, including through this new initiative, to ensure that Canadians continue to have high-quality food on their grocery store shelves and kitchen tables.”

“This is a very labour-intensive sector so it is critical to attract more people to ensure our food supply chain continues to provide healthy and nutritious food to Ontario families during this COVID-19 outbreak,” said Ernie Hardeman, Ontario’s minister of agriculture, food and rural affairs. “Our government is doing everything possible to ensure we support our farmers and food processors to fill job vacancies, including the development of a new web portal connecting workers with employers.”

Since June 2018, both the federal and provincial governments have committed support to approximately 2,500 projects, through the Partnership, to help eligible Ontario farmers, processors, businesses and sector organizations innovate and grow.

Earlier in April, the Ontario government also launched a new web portal to connect workers with employers looking to fill positions in the agri-food sector. The new online tool will match people to essential jobs and training resources throughout the provincial food supply chain.

The Ontario agri-food sector supports more than 837,000 jobs in Ontario and contributes more than $47.5 billion each year to the province’s economy.