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Future of Canadian Farmers and Food Production

Agriculture in Canada

The food production and security of Canada is dependent on its farmers. Agriculture accounts for 1.9 percent of Canada’s GDP.

Canada’s agriculture and Agri-food business employs a total of 2-3 million people and offers a wide range of high-quality job opportunities with competitive pay and benefits. Agriculture industry contributed CAD 41037 million in July 2021 as opposed to 46072 million in Jan 2021.

Challenges faced by Canadian farmers and its impact on agricultural products

Future of agriculture in Canada can be transformative, but to grab this opportunity Canadian farmers must address challenges, adapt to a new way of hiring workforce, and need to upgrade their farming skills.

In Canada, the average farm operator is over 50 years old, with fewer young people entering the agricultural profession each year and the rural population levels remaining constant over the last three decades.

These factors are causing a significant labor shortage in Canada, which the Canadian Agriculture Human Resources Council estimates will result in 123,000 vacant posts by 2030, excluding overseas workers.

Difficulty to access labor is leaving farmers vulnerable and without enough labor the quality and quantity of harvested crops is deteriorating. As the number of farmers drops and agricultural debt levels rises, farmer’s overall viability is jeopardized.

Federal Government’s Workforce Action Plan

To solve Canada’s agriculture sector serious and pervasive workforce shortages, the Canadian Agriculture and Agri-Food Workforce Action Plan were created to address the agricultural sector’s top business risk management challenges.

The national Labor Task Force (LTF) developed this plan in consultation with industry representatives from each area of agriculture and Agri-food value chain, including the seafood sector.

This action plan contains short, medium, and long-term plans for the government and industry to strengthen the future of Canadian agriculture. These plans include:

  • Expanding the labor supply for both skilled and unskilled workers
  • Improving knowledge and skills of agricultural sector workers

A comprehensive set of policies and priorities announced and being implemented at the federal level in Canada’s agriculture and farming industry is intended to address these fundamental challenges and level the playing field for new entrants of all ages and backgrounds, regardless of their scale or mode of production.

Solving labor shortage through two programs:  

Seasonal Agriculture Worker Program

The Seasonal Agriculture Worker Program (SAWP) is more than five decades old program that came into effect with the signing of bilateral conventions with the participating countries by the Canadian federal government.

SAWP authorizes employers to engage temporary foreign workers when Canadian and permanent residents are not available. Employers must meet three criteria to be eligible for SAWP:

  • TFWs must be Mexican citizens or citizens of Caribbean nations that participate in the program.
  • Production must be in specific commodity sectors such as Apiary products, fruits, vegetables (including canning/processing of these products if grown on the farm), mushrooms, flowers, nursery-grown trees including Christmas trees, greenhouses/nurseries, pedigreed canola seed, sod, tobacco, bovine, dairy, duck, horse, mink, poultry, sheep, swine.
  • The job activity must be related to on farm primary agriculture
Labor Market Impact Assessment: Agriculture stream

The Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) is another program designed to supplement Canadian workforce when there is no Canadian citizens or permanent residents available to do the job. This involves a verification process whereby ESDC assesses an offer of employment to ensure that the employment of a foreign worker will not have a negative impact on the Canadian labor market.

Employers need to provide a variety of information about the job position for which they want to hire a foreign worker, including the number of Canadians who applied for the position, the number of Canadians who were interviewed, and evidence that they have attempted to find qualified Canadian citizens or permanent residents to fill job positions before turning to foreign workers.

How we can help you?

  • The LMIA rules, regulations and requirements are subject to frequent changes. These changes deal with different categories of jobs, duration, exemptions etc. Continuous research, attention to detail and painstaking hard work is required to obtain a positive LMIA. We help in assessment of our client’s profile and advise them on their eligibility to get an LMIA.
  • We also assist our clients/employers with the advertisement posting.
  • We help Canadian employers for applying Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) application and legally representing them before ESDC during the procedure.