Federal government shifts summer job funding to essential sectors

Changes to the Canada Summer Jobs Program as a result of COVID-19 could mean real help for the agriculture sector.

Because of social distancing and the closure of non-essential services, several companies will not be hiring students and youth to fill summer jobs. The federal government is in the process of re-allocating those funds into employment grants targeted explicitly at jobs within essential service industries, including agriculture.

Essential services include the entire food supply chain, and the Department of Employment and Social Development Canada will look for the opportunities available on farms and other roles that ensure Canada’s food security, says Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

In addition, the government says that the fund will cover 100% of the employees’ salaries as part of this program, which is an increase of 50%, and jobs can run until February 28, 2021. The program will also now apply to part-time job opportunities, too.

“This is certainly a piece of the puzzle, although not the solution to the labour needs of the sector. Right now, there are many young people who don’t know what they will be doing this summer, but need the money and want experience. I hope many would consider helping on a farm or in local food businesses, where they can help ensure Canadians continue having access to quality food at affordable prices during this challenging time. Today’s jobs in agriculture and the food supply chain are very rewarding and use a range of skills,” says Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau.

The department says that regional job needs will be identified in consultation with Members of Parliament, and encourage those in the agri-food sector to get in touch with their respective MPs to discuss job needs in their riding.

The application process is set to open in April, with eligible coverage starting for jobs beginning in June.

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