A shortage of butchers and issues with the current Temporary Foreign Workers (TFW) program has been a struggle for Canadian processors, says the Canadian Meat Council (CMC). To address the issue, the Canadian government has announced a three-year agri-food immigration pilot project to bring full-time, non-seasonal agriculture workers to Canada. The pilot will include policy with a pathway to permanent residency.
“This pilot is vital to our sector. Our members provide year-round, permanent jobs. There’s nothing temporary about meat processing’s workforce requirements” says Chris White, president of CMC. “We currently have over 1,700 vacancies to fill with 900 butchers looking for permanent residency – this immigration pilot will provide a pathway to residency for butchers in all provinces which isn’t available to us right now.”
According to a news release, Industry Canada’s Agri-Food Economic Strategy reported a need to address the immediate labour shortages facing the sector and to modernize Canada’s immigration and temporary foreign worker programs to access the global labour force across all skill levels.
“The red meat sector creates over 288,000 jobs for Canadians, and our members hire Canadians first. Allowing butchers of all skill levels, including entry-level positions, access to immigration to fill proven job vacancies means creating more middle-class jobs – which is what this budget was all about,” says White. “Research shows when we fill one job vacancy it creates four other jobs for Canadians in the supply chain.”
Fine details of the pilot have yet to be announced; however, the CMC has asked for 2,750 immigration spots for three-years.