The effects of COVID-19 on agriculture were surprising, and some sectors of the industry were affected more than others — grain and oilseed operations fared much better than say, intensive horticulture crops, in terms of labour.
For this RealAg LIVE! host Kara Oosterhuis is joined by Debra Hauer of the Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council (CAHRC).
RealAg LIVE! streams every weekday at 3 pm E on Youtube, Facebook, and Twitter!
- Ottawa area is giving us hope for spring, they’re experiencing great weather
- Research over the winter on the effects of COVID-19 on the ag workforce
- Agriculture outperformed the Canadian economy in 2020
- That increase in production masked on-going and pandemic-specific labour shortages
- $2.9 billion dollars! COVID-19 cost the ag industry, variably across the country
- What parts of the industry were affected more than others?
- Horticulture relies on a lot of people
- Beekeepers were also in dire straits, CAHRC was told
- A lack of Canadian applying for these jobs too
- Can anything be done to attract Canadians to these jobs? The big red easy button doesn’t exist for ag labour issues
- How to get more people into the industry? Traditionally you’d go to your community and the neighbour’s kid could help out
- Have to think outside the box
- Last year around this time the conversation would be different
- Working with partners
- Different age groups? Demographics is driving labour shortages though, as people are retiring
- There’s a role to play for communities too; attracting families with appealing work-life balance
- Government’s role: Hauer will leave it to partners to advocate for how government would participate
- Meat processing was not part of the study, but CAHRC recognizes the severe labour issues and that what’s happening in meat processing affects farmers and ranchers down the line
- Safe work environments, what will that mean? PPE, plexiglass barriers, housing for TFWs; costs increase by 12 per cent for safety
- What are farmers concerned about for the upcoming year?
- Supply managed sectors were able to pivot early
- What percentage is considered the threshold for not having enough people to fill positions?
- Extreme stress, delayed expansion plans
- A survey like this one is done about every 4 years