Three-year pilot project to help fill labour shortage in meat processing, mushroom sector


Over the past number of years, there has been an increase in labour shortages for both meat processors and those in mushroom production. To put it in perspective, there are nearly 1,700 empty butcher stations at meat processing plants across Canada, and as far as mushroom production goes, their job vacancy rate has almost doubled in the past two years.

Announced today, the Agri-Food Immigration Pilot project will address the need to attract skilled workers from around the world to fill the void. In the long run, the government hopes it will retain workers by providing them with an opportunity to become permanent residents.

“A year ago, we met with Minister Hussen, Hajdu and MacAulay, industry members, and the union. Our labour shortage and message to help Canada’s food supply became clear to the government. Today, we are thankful for their hard work, their recognition of our labour shortage, and their appreciation for our butchers and Agri-Food sector by announcing this labour pilot” says Chris White, president of the Canadian Meat Council (CMC).

According to a news release, the government will be looking to attract experienced, non-seasonal workers who can economically establish in Canada. In particular, the pilot will focus on attracting retail butchers, industrial butchers, food processing labourers, harvesting labourers, general farm workers, and farm supervisors and specialized livestock workers.

“For the last decade or more, mushroom growers and other farmers, have fought for immigration access for our sector’s farmworkers employed in year-round jobs,” says Ryan Koeslag, executive vice-president of the Canadian Mushroom Growers Association. “Agriculture needs immigration access, just like any other sector.”

The news release states, agriculture and agri-food industry is an essential contributor to Canada’s economic growth and vitality, supporting 1 in 8 jobs across the country.

“The success of our Canadian farmers and food processors depends on their ability to recruit and retain the workforce they need to capture opportunities at home and abroad,” adds Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Marie-Claude Bibeau. “This pilot will help to ensure that employers in the agriculture and agri-food sector have the people they need to get the job done, to help drive our economy and to feed the world.”

To be eligible to participate in the pilot, candidates must have:

  • 12 months of full-time, non-seasonal Canadian work experience in the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, in an eligible occupation in processing meat products, raising livestock, or growing mushrooms or greenhouse crops;
  • a Canadian Language Benchmark level 4 in English or French;
  • an education at high school level or greater (Canadian equivalency); and,
  • an indeterminate job offer for full-time, non-seasonal work in Canada, outside of Quebec, at or above the prevailing wage

For the full backgrounder, click here.


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