Human Resources
June 28, 2017, Ottawa, Ont. — The Board of Directors of the Canadian Agri-Food Policy Institute (CAPI) is pleased to announce the appointment of John F.T. Scott to the position of Chair.

Scott has been involved with CAPI since its inception and has served on the Board for the past three years. He is the former CEO of the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers and the past chair of the acclaimed Vineland Research and Innovation Centre. He cites the work of CAPI as one of his great passions in life.

Scott succeeds Ted Bilyea, who announced his resignation earlier this year. "Over the six years I have been Chair, CAPI has accomplished a great deal to the benefit of the sector, culminating in Canadian agri-food being acknowledged as a growth sector," said Bilyea. "I have every expectation even more will be achieved under John's leadership."

Scott stated, "I am deeply honoured to receive the trust of the Board and I look forward to working with this strong group to build the CAPI of tomorrow. I join the Board in expressing our deep appreciation to Ted and with pleasure announce that he will remain with us as a Special Advisor."

At its Annual Meeting on June 20, 2017, CAPI elected two new members to its Board of Directors. Chantelle Donahue is the Vice President & Commercial Seed Manager for Global Edible Oil Solutions-Specialties (GEOS-S) at Cargill Limited.

Deborah Stark is the former Deputy Minister of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. She retired from this position in 2016 following a rich career in the Ontario public service, during which she held several senior management positions.

"CAPI is extremely fortunate to have these two exceptional individuals join our Board," said Mr. Scott. "Their skill sets complement and enhance those held by our continuing Directors. We anticipate valuable participation from each of them."

The Board of Directors expresses its sincere appreciation to retiring Board member Wayne Stark, who served on the Board for the past eight years. Through that time Mr. Stark made several significant contributions to the agri-food sector, and CAPI looks forward to continuing to work with him.
Published in Companies
June 14, 2017, Toronto, Ont. - Vive Crop Protection is pleased to announce the recent appointment of Dr. Darren Anderson as President.

Darren was one of the original founders of Vive and has been a member of Vive’s Board of Directors since the company was formed in 2006. Since founding the company, Darren has served in various senior management roles, including leading Vive’s product development, regulatory, and communications activities.

Keith Thomas, who will remain as CEO of Vive, states that “Darren’s deep understanding of modern agriculture, keen strategic insight, and excellent business sense continue to be an asset to Vive. I am looking forward to working with Darren in his new role.”

“I am excited about Vive’s future”, added Darren. “With three new products launched in 2017, several recently announced partnerships, and an innovative product pipeline, we are poised for very rapid growth.”
Published in Companies
May 15, 2017, Summerland, B.C., Canada – Okanagan Specialty Fruits (OSF), the developer of nonbrowning Arctic apple varieties, today announced the hiring of Don Westcott, who joins the team as OSF’s Director of Operations.

Effective May 15, 2017, Westcott will assess, plan and facilitate the execution of the company’s orchard establishment and fruit production, in addition to supporting infrastructure and facility operations.

Westcott comes to OSF with over twenty years of tree fruit industry experience, most recently with BC Tree Fruits Cooperative as their Director of Logistics, Planning, and Industry Relations. Prior to his tenure with BC Tree Fruits, Westcott held multiple roles over eight years with Okanagan Tree Fruit Cooperative, preceded by a nine-year stint with Sun Fresh Cooperative Growers in a variety of positions.

“We are thrilled to add a professional of Don’s caliber to help lead our rapidly growing team,” stated OSF President Neal Carter. Carter pointed to Westcott’s past roles and local ties as key reasons for his fit with OSF, explaining, “Over the past two decades, Don has been a key leader in the tree fruit industry in the Okanagan Valley, and his experience and enthusiasm will help ensure the successful commercialization of our nonbrowning Arctic® apple varieties.”

Don Westcott expressed his eagerness to join Okanagan Specialty Fruits, saying, “I am proud to become part of this hard-working team that’s bringing innovation to the tree fruit industry, beginning with Arctic® apples. The same spirit that drives OSF motivates me and I couldn’t be more pleased to bring my organizational skills and experience to this central role with a pioneering organization like OSF.”

Westcott’s addition comes just weeks after OSF announced a number of other new hires, including Jeanette De-Coninck-Hertzler as Sales Manager and Denise Everett as Communications Specialist.
Published in Companies
April 27, 2017, Summerland, BC – In preparation for the fall 2017 commercial launch of nonbrowning Arctic apples, Okanagan Specialty Fruits (OSF) has added produce industry veteran Jeanette De-Coninck-Hertzler as sales manager and Denise Everett as communications specialist to their team.

De-Coninck-Hertzler brings to OSF more than 30 years of produce sales experience. After obtaining a BSc, with a major in agricultural business management, from California Polytechnic State University, De-Coninck-Hertzler began her career as a sales representative with Frieda’s Inc. in 1985, where she worked for nearly 20 years before joining MCL Distributing, since re-named to 4Earth Farms, as a senior account manager. De-Coninck-Hertzler has since worked in various roles with Shamrock Foods Company, Greengate Fresh LLLP, and Index Fresh, Inc. As sales manager, she will serve as OSF’s sales contact for Arctic apples.

“Jeanette has a proven track record of sales in the produce industry, strong agricultural roots and a passionate personality,” says Jennifer Armen, OSF’s director of business development and marketing. “We look forward to her added experience as we introduce Arctic apples to consumers.”

Denise Everett will join the company on May 8 as the team’s communications specialist. Denise will be leading the company’s media relations, serving as OSF’s primary contact for interviews and executing on the company’s social media strategy. Everett has more than 15 years experience as a communications professional, and began her career in the journalism sector in B.C.

Also in May, OSF will welcome three new members to its research and development team, who will be working to improve additional apple varieties, as well as other tree fruits. Additionally, Jenavive Holmes has joined OSF as an administrative specialist.

OSF is also implementing role changes of current team members to further boost the scope of the team’s activities. Joel Brooks has transitioned from brand manager to brand marketing manager and Jessica Brady has transitioned from marketing and communications specialist to stakeholder outreach and education. In their new positions, Brooks will take a lead role in OSF’s branding, marketing and communications activities, and Brady will focus on outreach and relationship development with key influencer groups and organizations.

“It’s an exciting time for us here at OSF,” says Carter. “With so many strong additions to our team to help bring Arctic apples to eager consumers, we look forward to continued team growth and the introduction of additional wholesome and delicious apple varieties.”
Published in Companies
April 27, 2017, Gloucester, Ont – The Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council (CAHRC) has developed a training program to help Canadian producers strengthen their workforces through on-the-farm training. The program, called AgriSkills, can be customized and made available to various commodity and sector organizations to help their member producers train workers in an easy-to-use and effective manner that documents results.

Recently released CAHRC research indicates the gap between labour demand and the domestic workforce in agriculture has doubled from 30,000 to 59,000 in the past 10 years and projections indicate that by 2025, the Canadian agri-workforce could be short workers for 114,000 jobs. The industry is in need of effective mechanisms to address skills gaps, train farm employees and track training progress.

AgriSkills is a training program that meets this need. It is a program delivered through national and provincial commodity and farm organizations that want to offer their members meaningful workforce training support. It includes structured on-the-farm training courses and employee tracking tools to support effective performance for new and existing workers. Research is currently available to customize the AgriSkills program for: aquaculture; beef; swine; sheep and goats; broiler hens; grains and oilseeds; potatoes; apples; mushrooms; sod; and apiculture industries.

The AgriSkills program includes training resources for both workers and their managers. On-the-job, self-guided activities help workers learn how to do their job safely and efficiently, while e-learning and online videos offer more in-depth information on the theory behind the practice. For managers, AgriSkills provides on-the-job training guides, checklists, tracking tools and other resources to help them support and manage their worker training requirements.

“The purpose of the AgriSkills program is to help producers train their workers in a consistent, efficient and effective manner, that documents all results,” explains Portia MacDonald-Dewhirst, executive director of CAHRC. “The system recognizes the importance of on-the-farm instruction, and gives employers an effective tool to ensure workers are taught how to perform their jobs successfully and safely.”

The core content of AgriSkills was developed with the help of experts, producers and small-business owners from a wide range of agriculture commodity groups. Their input enabled CAHRC to create a set of National Occupational Standards that reflects the work conducted on farms at various levels. By using training materials based on these standards, employers can ensure their workers have the skills they need to meet national standards of safety, competency and productivity – skills that reduce waste, minimize loss, and support business success.

AgriSkills is one of several tools that CAHRC offers to help modern farm operations manage their workforce. CAHRC also offers the Agri HR Toolkit – an online resource guide and templates to address the HR needs of any business; Agri Pathways – promoting careers in agriculture; and Agri Talent – a national database of learning opportunities in agriculture.

The AgriSkills program was funded by the Government of Canada’s Sectoral Initiatives Program. For more information on these and other CAHRC offerings visit
Published in Federal
April 17, 2017, Kelowna, B.C. - Members of the agricultural community in Kelowna, B.C., say City Council did not communicate with them enough when constructing a new temporary farm worker housing plan.

Kelowna city council forwarded the new temporary farm worker housing plan to public hearing at Monday afternoon’s, April 10, council meeting.

The plan focuses on making the process simpler for farmers who want to house fewer than 40 workers on their property. Those farmers would have one meeting before council and no public hearing. Farms with over 40 workers will have to go through council and a public hearing process.

The B.C. Fruit Growers’ Association would like to see a different way of determining when an application for temporary farm worker housing should go to public hearing. They have requested the city host further dialogue with industry partners before the plan moves forward.

According to the City's suburban and rural planning manager, over 90 per cent of Okanagan farms use less than 40 workers, and the City has spent ample time trying to consult with the agricultural community.

Revised policy changes were sent out again for comment on February 10, 2017. However, the B.C. Fruit Growers’ Association was not included in this e-mail. It was not until March 15, that the B.C. Fruit Growers’ Association was sent the final revised policy for comment before the April 10 council meeting.

A public hearing for the new temporary farm worker housing plan will be held on May 2, 2017.

If the new plan is not accepted at the public hearing the City will have to look at different options and will have to consult with all partners once more. READ MORE
Published in Business & Policy
January 24, 2017, Niagara Falls, Ont – Enjoy a lively day chock-full of ideas and insights on mentoring, merchandising and marketing from one of Canada’s leading retail & farm market experts.

The Ontario Farm Fresh Marketing Association (OFFMA) is hosting a workshop with farm marketer Pete Luckett Feb. 21 at the Marriott Gateway to the Falls, Niagara Falls, Ont. The “farminar” will run from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Participants will leave armed and dangerous with loads of insights to try out in their operation. Customers won’t know what hit them! (But they’ll be loving it!) The day will conclude with an interactive “up close and personal” chat with Pete, where particpamnts can ask questions or discuss those managing, merchandising or marketing perils that keep them up at night.

Topics to be covered in the workshop:
  • Building a Team: excellence is customer service can only begin with a satisfied and motivated team
  • Merchandising: 70 per cent of all purchases are made on impulse and powerful merchandising is the best method to capitalize on this opportunity.
  • Marketing: Whether your operation is roadside, retail, café or a combination of it all, you’ve got to create excitement and energy – every day.
OFFMA will also be holding its annual Ontario Farm Fresh Excellence Awards Banquet on Feb. 21 starting at 6 p.m. at the Marriott Gateway to the Falls. Enjoy a relaxing evening and meal with farm friends, take part in the silent auction, and celebrate the successes of the direct farm marketing industry.

For more information or to order tickets for the workshop and/or banquet, call 905-841-9278.
Published in Marketing
December 15, 2016, Ottawa, Ont – The Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) is pleased with the federal government's announcement yesterday that the cumulative duration limit, or "four-in, four-out" rule, will no longer apply to temporary foreign workers.
In recent meetings with government officials, CFA has expressed concern that this rule has created unnecessary hardship for employers already struggling to fulfill their labour requirements. It has limited the pool of available, experienced workers and led to significant retraining costs while reducing productivity. Ultimately, it has limited opportunities for temporary foreign workers to attain permanent residency. CFA continues to see increased pathways to permanent residency as a vital component of any long-term strategy to reduce Canadian agriculture's labour shortages.

"The government's early action on this file is a critical step forward and CFA is eager to work with government and industry partners in the coming months on a more comprehensive suite of meaningful changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and broader labour market programming," said CFA President Ron Bonnett.

Removing the cumulative duration rule was one of several recommendations that CFA presented to the House of Commons human resources committee earlier this year.

With recent research from the Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council highlighting nearly 60,000 vacancies in primary agriculture alone – a figure expected to increase to 114,000 by 2025 – these changes come as a welcome and important move towards meaningful change.

Labour constraints in agriculture continue to cost the industry approximately $1.5 billion in lost sales each year. Farm groups reiterate that this multi-faceted issue requires a long-term strategic approach that includes:

  • improved engagement with groups that are under-represented in the domestic agricultural labour force
  • amendments to Canada's immigration policy
  • ways to make Canada's skills training programs more supportive of farms and on-the-job training.

CFA looks forward to obtaining more details of the new requirements for employers to advertise job opportunities to under-represented groups. Connecting with these communities is a priority for the industry and CFA is working with other stakeholders to address current barriers that confront those interested in working in the sector.

Interested parties are encouraged to refer to the Agriculture and Agri-food Workforce Action Plan, developed by a Labour Task Force involving more than 75 organizations, as a roadmap to improving Canada's agricultural labour market.
Published in Federal

December 5, 2016, Ottawa, Ont – Canada’s agriculture sector faces a persistent lack of sufficient workers with the right skills and in the right places.

Labour shortages have doubled over the last decade and are projected to double again to 113,800 positions before 2025, according to a new Conference Board of Canada report. This report relies on research findings from a three-year agriculture labour market research project conducted by the Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council (CAHRC) in collaboration with the Conference Board.

“The agriculture sector is having difficulty recruiting and retaining domestic workers. As labour shortages have expanded, the sector has increasingly turned to temporary foreign workers to fill the labour gap,” said Michael Burt, director of industrial economic trends with the Conference Board of Canada. “Finding solutions to the labour shortages in the years to come is critical for the future growth of the sector.”

The report – Sowing the Seeds of Growth: Temporary Foreign Workers in Agriculture – examines why temporary foreign workers (TFWs) play such an important role in the agriculture sector’s workforce. It finds that the industry faces unique recruitment and retention challenges that are contributing to its growing labour shortages. These challenges include an aging workforce, the rural location of many operations, and negative perceptions about working in the sector.

Highlights of the report include:

  • Labour shortages within Canada’s agriculture sector have doubled over the past decade and are expected to double again by 2025.
  • At its seasonal peak, the sector needs about 100,000 more workers than at seasonal lows.
  • Three-quarters of the sector’s labour gap has been filled by temporary foreign workers.

The most prominent challenge is the large seasonal fluctuations in employment. At its seasonal peak, the agriculture sector needs about 100,000 more workers than at its seasonal lows, which represents a 30 per cent fluctuation. The average difference between the seasonal peak and low in employment for all other sectors is just four per cent. These seasonal fluctuations are why more than three quarters of agricultural TFWs arrive as part of the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program.

TFWs have become a key part of the sector’s continued operations and will likely continue to play a growing role in the future. TFWs have been able to fill three-quarters of the industry’s labour shortage gap and now represent one-in-10 workers in the sector. In addition to easing much of the sector’s labour shortages, TFWs have contributed to the growth in agricultural production over the past decade and have supported the employment of Canadians in the sector. Many farm operators indicate that they would have closed, leading to Canadian job losses, had they not had access to TFWs.

Finding solutions to the sector’s growing labour gap in the years to come is important. However, just paying more or buying more machines are not the panacea they would seem. For example, wages in agriculture have risen relative to the average for all sectors over the past 15 years, but the number of Canadians willing to work in agriculture has shrunk. At the same time, a dramatic increase in the amount of machinery employed per worker has contributed to agriculture experiencing the strongest labour productivity gains of any major sector over the past 20 years. Yet, the sector’s labour gap has continued to expand.

One potential solution may be re-evaluating the effectiveness of Canada’s immigration programs so that they better meet the needs of the agriculture sector. With federal immigration policies geared toward attracting high-skilled workers, they offer few pathways for permanent residency for lower-skilled workers, even though agriculture has a critical need for them. A path toward permanent residency for migrant workers, who are filling a permanent market need, would assist farm operators in finding a permanent solution to their labour challenges.

This research was funded by the Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council (CAHRC).

Published in Federal

July 20, 2016 - From its founding in 1961, Highline Mushrooms has flourished to become the largest mushroom grower in Canada with four Ontario growing facilities. Part of that success is attributed to approximately 70 per cent of its employees being new Canadians who stay an average of eight years, with some remaining with the company for 20 – 30 years.

This labour success is not an accident, nor left to chance; rather, it is carefully orchestrated.

“For many immigrants, Highline is their first or second job in Canada,” explains Susan McBride Friesen, director of human resources of Highline Mushrooms from their head office in Leamington, Ont. “Providing employment to new Canadians helps them to establish Canadian roots, learn new skills – including English as a second language – and become a part of the Highline family.  We find that new comers to Canada often have farming connections in their home land, with a closer relationship with the land.  Providing them an opportunity to grow and learn has produced generations of leaders within our organization.” 

The Highline Mushrooms recruitment process caught the attention of the Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council (CAHRC) as it strives to alleviate the chronic labour shortage facing Canadian agriculture through its Labour Market Information (LMI) research. CAHRC recently released research indicating that annual farm cash receipt losses to Canadian producers due to job vacancies are $1.5 billion or three per cent of the industry’s total value in sales and production. The current gap between labour demand and the domestic workforce is 59,000 and projections indicate that by 2025, the Canadian agri-workforce could be short workers for 114,000 jobs.

“There is no one answer to the agricultural labour shortage in Canada,” explains Portia MacDonald-Dewhirst, executive director of CAHRC. “New Canadians have long been an under-represented group within the Canadian workforce. Highline Mushrooms is a great example of innovative labour solutions and their recruitment and training process is a model for success that CARHC is sharing so that others may benefit.”

Highline’s approach to labour identifies several key aspects including recruitment, overcoming transportation barriers, overcoming language barriers, new hire orientation, supervisory and leadership development, effective HR practices and key success factors.

Recruitment is achieved by approaching local immigrant settlement agencies and offering meaningful work at a fair wage. Associates within the immigrant settlement agencies are brought to the farm facilities and perform the work themselves to be better able to communicate and match immigrants’ skills with Highline job requirements. Highline also holds regular job fairs in partnership with the immigrant settlement agencies and all jobs are available - not just harvesting. This may include maintenance and labour, skilled trades, operating farm equipment, supervisory and accounting jobs, among others.

Overcoming transportation barriers is difficult as many employees must travel from urban centres - typically about a 40 minute commute - and there is no public transportation. In 2006, Highline introduced a ‘travel pay policy’ where employees are paid $6.35 per day for travel providing they arrive at work on time. This has worked well and encourages carpooling however is still difficult for new employees who don’t yet know anyone working at the farm.

Language and literacy barriers are overcome by Highline providing second language training on site, after work, two days per week. The company pays all costs associated with the language training and supports employees with time off work as needed to attend classes. Further, Highline translates important communications into the major languages used by the workers, such as health and safety material and the bi-weekly corporate newsletter. Also, photos without text are used when possible for training purposes.

New hire orientation consists of recruits getting two days of instruction held both in class and on the floor, to provide opportunities for questions and learning. This way, when the recruit returns for their first day of paid work they have met with the supervisor and are familiar with the scope of work. The harvesters have a formal 6-8 week training program; otherwise there is an informal buddy system where someone of similar community or background is paired with a new recruit to help him or her learn the finer points of their job.

Supervisory and leadership development within management is achieved through leadership training with an organizational psychologist to cover issues such as conflict resolution and change management along with support through regular meetings with the HR team.

Effective HR practices implemented at Highline have proven to have big returns. Their Values in Action Program encourages employees to uphold Highline Mushrooms’ values of: Excellence, Care, Respect, Effort, Integrity, Openness and Fairness. Employees who demonstrate these values at work and in the community are rewarded with having their names entered into a monthly draw for various prizes.

Key success factors for the employment of immigrants at Highline have been summarized as:

  • Make full use of the services offered by community job partners.
  • Maintain an open dialogue with job partners to identify areas that need improvement and be willing to work together to find solutions.
  • Make your business attractive to new Canadians by providing meaningful work at fair pay.
  • Make efforts to communicate with new Canadians so they feel comfortable in the workplace.
  • Make communications available in the languages of the immigrants.
  • Ensure that good recruitment processes are in place so the employment experience can succeed.
  • Front line supervisors must be patient, flexible and have the communications skills to be able to explain things in more than one way to ensure the new employee understands what to do.

Highline Mushrooms is just one of many case studies being done as part of CAHRC’s LMI research into reducing barriers to agricultural employment for new Canadians. For more information on CAHRC’s LMI project visit The LMI research was funded in part by the Government of Canada’s Sectoral Initiatives Program.

The Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council works with industry leaders, governments and educational stakeholders to research, develop and communicate solutions to the challenges in employment and skills development in primary agriculture. The Council now leads collaborative implementation efforts in support of the national Workforce Action Plan for the agriculture and agri-food sector. For more information visit

Published in Federal

Where do you go when you need to hire some additional staff? Who do you call when you need an extra pair of hands?

Many on-farm marketers tend to hire students. In the past few years, there have been lots of students looking for jobs in the summer so it is an easy fit with farm businesses that focus on a summer/fall product. There are great examples of summer students that have decided to come back or stay on with farm businesses once their education is complete. You can’t beat the energy and enthusiasm the right student can bring to your operation.

The downfall of having all or mainly student employees is that in September, when students go back to school, your market is suddenly without staff. This year, consider hiring strategically. Look at some other options that may work out better in the long term.

Retired boomers are looking for something to do. The front end of the boomer generation are now past 65 and the majority are retired from their regular 9 to 5 jobs. This group is generally in good health but some are lost without the regularity and schedules of their job lives. They may not want to work every day, Monday to Friday, but you could probably get them to commit to a few days each week and, hopefully, at least one weekend day. They aren’t necessarily looking for a lot of money so don’t be too worried that you can’t pay them what they have been used to earning. Butchart Gardens in Victoria, has retired lawyers, pilots and dentists working on its grounds. Generally, the business has more applicants than positions available.

Another group of people to consider are young moms. There may be some in your area who want to be around when their children need them. Daycare can still be an issue in rural Ontario so it is difficult to hold down a full-time job if there is no one to look after the kids after school. These women sometimes want something to do for a few hours a day but not necessarily a full-time job. You can bring them in for peak periods of business. They are often grateful to find a job close to their homes and their children’s school.

The artist community has a flexible work schedule. If your market is only open for a couple of months, you may want to consider approaching an artist. They are often looking for some additional income and perhaps, if they know in advance that you can hire them for two to three months consistently, they can put their artwork on hold for those few months each year. Having returning employees on an annual basis is always easier than starting from zero with each new employee.

If you have a great employee who is looking for additional hours, consider recommending them to another on-farm business that is open at a different time of year. There is a sweet corn operation that shares their staff with a Christmas tree business in the same neighbourhood. This is a win-win-win for staff and employers.

Post your job opportunities online. If you are not sure how to do that find someone to help you. You can also recruit from your customers. Customers already know about your business and want to see you succeed. It is a great beginning for a new hire.

Once you’ve had a chance to review these categories, consider what each groups’ preferences may be. Students are mostly available in the summer. Young moms may want to have the summer with their children but can help in September when their children and your student employees are back in school. Boomers may be available a few days a week for all the weeks you are open. A little bit of planning could go a long way to make sure your business is well staffed through the whole season.

Published in Companies

March 28, 2016, Mississauga, Ont – As farmers across the province get ready for spring and the upcoming growing season, Ontario’s Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program (SAWP) is marking a major milestone.

The internationally acclaimed program is celebrating its 50th anniversary supplying Ontario farmers experiencing domestic labour shortages with seasonal workers from Mexico and the Caribbean.

Approximately 17,000 seasonal workers from Mexico, Jamaica, Barbados, Trinidad/Tobago and the Eastern Caribbean States are expected to be placed at Ontario fruit and vegetable farms this growing season as a supplement to local labour through SAWP. Approximately 1,450 farms will benefit from the program this year.

“We’re extremely proud that we’ve been able to help our horticultural industry thrive and grow over the past half century,” says Ken Forth, president of Foreign Agricultural Resource Management Services (FARMS), which administers the program. “Ontario produces some of the highest quality fruits and vegetables in the world. Without the supplemental labour they hire through SAWP, many of our growers just wouldn’t be able stay viable.”

The program got its start in 1966 when 263 seasonal workers from Jamaica were brought to Ontario to fill a shortage of available Canadian workers. Over the past 50 years the program has grown steadily and has consistently exceeded expectations, providing Ontario farmers a steady source of reliable, skilled and professional labour.

At the same time, the program has given seasonal agricultural workers employment, benefits and educational opportunities not available to them at home.

Because SAWP is a “Canadians first” program, supplementary seasonal farm labour is hired from partner countries only if agricultural operators cannot find domestic workers to fill vacancies.

“Half a century after it was created, this program continues to serve the same vital function on an even larger scale,” says Forth.

A recent report by Agri-food Economic Systems found that chronic labour shortages continue to challenge the agricultural sector due to aging demographics, competition with other sectors and fewer numbers of young people pursuing careers in farming. As a result, demand for workers under SAWP is projected to remain steady.

The report cited the program as a key reason Ontario’s horticulture industry is able to generate $5.4 billion in economic activity and approximately 34,280 jobs.

It’s estimated that two jobs for Canadians are created in the agri-food industry for every seasonal agricultural worker employed through SAWP at Ontario farms.

Published in Food Safety

December 16, 2015, Edmonton, Alta – Hortsnacks at Night will be focusing on the human resources side of production in January.

“Kristen Cumming of Cantos Performance Management is passionate about agriculture and small business human resources in Alberta,” said Dustin Morton, commercial horticulture specialist, Alberta Agriculture and Forestry. “She’ll be sharing current trends in performance management including goal setting, providing feedback and generating engagement.”

The HortSnacks at Night – Human Resources workshop takes place January 12 in Okotoks, January 13 in Wetaskiwin, and January 20, 2016, in Fairview.

“This series is all about improving producer’s bottom line by getting timely business topics out in a quick, easy to learn way with lots of room for discussion and questions,” says Morton.

All three workshops run from 7 to 9 p.m. Register for any of the three by calling the Ag-Info Centre at 1-800-387-6030 by January 5, 2016.

For more information, contact Dustin Morton at 780-742-7571

Published in Companies

September 14, 2015, Quebec City, Que. – Quebec apple farmers are back on track after changes to Canada's Temporary Foreign Worker Program threatened to put their harvest at risk.

Apple farmers were saved at the last minute when Citizenship and Immigration Canada bowed to pressure from the industry and agreed to speed up the visa process for farm workers. READ MORE

Published in Fruit

July 28, 2015 - The Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council (CAHRC) is pleased to announce the formation of the Advisory Group for the Supporting the Advancement of Women in Agriculture project. This project will examine and address critical barriers to advancement facing women in the industry. Based on these results, there will be a strategic program developed and implemented to support improved access to leadership opportunities and strengthened business success for women working in agriculture.

As the project moves forward, the Advisory Group will provide feedback around key lines of enquiry to ensure meaningful outcomes for the agricultural community. This includes identifying subject matter experts to participate in the research, development and validation activities. Members will also assist in guiding the progress of the project for the next two years and as findings come in will provide feedback on proposed research instruments, tool drafts, report drafts, and other project elements.

The Advisory Group is comprised of professional and entrepreneurial women and men in the agriculture industry with an interest in advancing women in leadership roles. Members were drawn from senior management and executive positions in farm businesses, agricultural associations and agribusiness. They provide a balance of representation from across Canada as well as a cross-section of production areas, business focus and industry associations. The members include:

  • Heather Broughton, Agriculture and Food Council of Alberta, Agri-Food Management Excellence Inc.
  • Chantelle Donahue, Vice-President Corporate Affairs, Cargill Limited
  • Dr. Annemieke Farenhorst, NSERC Chair for Women in Science and Engineering, Faculty of Agriculture and Food Sciences, University of Manitoba
  • Susan Fitzgerald, Fitzgerald & Co, Canadian AgriWomen Network
  • Rebecca Hannam, Advanced Agricultural Leadership Program, Rural Ontario Institute,
  • Dr. Laura Halfyard, Sunrise and Connaigre Mussel Farms, Canadian Aquaculture Industry Association
  • Brenda Lammens, Agri-Food Management Institute, Canadian AgriWomen Network
  • Geneviève Lemonde, AGRIcarrières
  • Iris Meck, Iris Meck Communications
  • Debra Pretty-Straathof, Ontario Federation of Agriculture, World Farmers Organization (WFO) Standing Committee on Women in Agriculture
  • Lis Robertson, Canadian Association of Farm Advisors
  • Kim Shukla, Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance

There will be ways for others to get involved in the project as well. In the near future CAHRC will be announcing sub-groups focused on specific areas. There will also be social media groups through Linked-In and Facebook formed to allow for greater connection and communication throughout the project.

For more information or to get involved with Supporting the Advancement of Women in Agriculture, please contact Jennifer Wright, HR Consultant at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or Debra Hauer, Project Manager at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or visit CAHRC at  This project is funded by Status of Women Canada.

Published in Provinces

January 29, 2015 - The Agriculture and Agri-Food Labour Task Force (LTF) has elected Mark Wales as its new Chairperson and is moving forward with the recommendations of its Agriculture and Agri-Food Labour Action Plan to address agricultural industry worker shortages.

“It is my pleasure to chair the Labor Task Force. We have a broad-based, growing group representing all commodities and value chains and we are rolling up our sleeves, coming together to work on solutions for agriculture and agri-food labour shortages,” says Wales. “Through the Labour Action Plan we have a roadmap forward addressing our workforce shortages which have been identified as the number one risk affecting the agriculture and agri-food industry today.”

Wales, a horticulture farmer from Elgin County, Ont., is also the Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council (CAHRC) Chair, representing the Ontario Federation of Agriculture.

The Labour Task Force was established by the Agriculture and Agri-Food (AAFC) Value Chain Roundtables in 2012 to examine issues of agriculture and agri-food labour management and shortages; recently the LTF transitioned to become a CAHRC Committee.  Participation in the AAFC Value Chain Roundtable process and composition of the LTF is made up of a diverse cross-section of agricultural representatives covering everything from primary production, lobster and meat processing to ornamental horticulture production. These agriculture and agri-food value chains are a powerful driver of the Canadian economy representing eight per cent of the GDP. 

The LTF released the Labour Action Plan with practical and achievable recommendations last spring and support for the Plan’s implementation has now grown to 45 industry partners. The group is working on an update to the Policy and Programs section of the Labour Action Plan, including a review of changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program as it relates to agriculture and agri-food.

“We always recruit and hire Canadian domestic workers first,” says Mark Chambers, the LTF Policy and Programs Working Group Chair, who is Production Manager for Sunterra Farms, a family owned pork operation in Acme, Alberta. “However, finding workers to work and live in small rural communities is very challenging.  We need more workers to meet current production demands and to take advantage of export opportunities offered by new free trade deals.

“Labour shortages are pervasive, affecting current operational success,” says Wales. “Canadian producers’ incomes depend on agriculture’s value-added advantage and Canadian consumers depend on us for healthy, reasonably priced food.  To allow for continued prosperity and growth for our industry and the broader Canadian economy, it is urgent and essential that we continue to move forward with the Labour Action Plan to find short, medium and long term solutions.” 

As the overarching organization for farm labour in Canada, CAHRC is also conducting research on agricultural Labour Market Information (LMI) to identify labour and skill gaps as well as the National Agricultural Occupational Framework (NAOF), an in-depth study of the exact jobs and skills involved in today’s agricultural workforce. These projects will help to better inform and connect industry, governments and academic institutions with agriculture’s workforce requirements which are integral to the success of the Labour Action Plan’s future activities.

“The Canadian Agricultural HR Council is pleased to lead the implementation of the Labour Task Force’s Agriculture and Agri-Food Labour Action Plan,” explains Portia MacDonald-Dewhirst, Executive Director, CAHRC. “The Labour Task Force is a critically important mechanism that brings industry together to discuss labour related issues, recognize their inter-connectedness and collaborate to develop meaningful solutions.”

For more information on the Agriculture and Agri-Food Labour Action Plan or agricultural human resource management contact CAHRC at

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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.

Published in Federal

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