Labour shortages amount to $2.9B in Canadian agricultural sector

Data from a new report by the Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council (CAHRC) shows that farmer’s across Canadian ag industry lost $2.9 billion in sales due to unfilled vacancies. The amount is an increase of $1.5 billion since 2014.

The Labour Market Forecast to 2029 also shows 46 per cent of producers who reported vacancies either delayed or out right quashed the thought of expanding their operation which in return, many reported extreme stress for themselves and their workers. According to a news release, nearly 90 per cent of producers with unfilled jobs identified excessive stress and hours as a result of not being able to find the workers they required.

“Labour shortages in Canadian agriculture can only be addressed by taking decisive action,” says Portia MacDonald-Dewhirst, executive director of CAHRC. “By working together, we can find meaningful, creative solutions to increase the supply of labour and improve the skills of the sector’s workforce for the continued success and growth of agriculture across Canada.”

Key findings from the report include total job vacancies in agriculture have declined to 16,500 from 26,400, largely as a result of the adoption of technology, and an increase in the number of international workers who fill jobs where no Canadians can be found.

Vacancy rates in agriculture remain higher than any other sector in the country at 5.4 per cent, which is a decrease since 2014 when the rate was seven per cent. Currently the national average is 2.9 per cent.

Forward thinking

In order to address the labour shortage, CAHRC has identified and developed agriculture-specific human resource (HR) tools designed to support modern farm operations to manage their workforce. The organizations also provide training programs around agri-skills, online and in-person through the Agri HR Toolkit, which is a guide to help businesses with HR needs involving a temporary foreign worker.

Over the next few weeks, a series of 22 reports with labour market forecasts for each province and major agricultural commodity will be released.

According to a news release, the agricultural labour market research was validated through industry consultations conducted Canada-wide involving 1,900 farm business owners, employees and stakeholder organizations. The labour market forecast research was funded in part by the Government of Canada’s Sectoral Initiatives Program.

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