CCA cheers Agri-Food Im­mi­gra­tion Pi­lot to ad­dress acute labour short­ages in beef sec­tor

Prairie Post (East Edition) - - OPINION - Canadian Cat­tle­men’s As­soc.

The Canadian Cat­tle­men’s As­so­ci­a­tion (CCA) wel­comes news of the Agri-Food Im­mi­gra­tion Pi­lot pro­gram.

For­eign work­ers on Canadian farms and in meat pack­ing plants pro­vide sta­bil­ity through­out the agricultur­e and beef sec­tors, and more are needed.

The an­nounce­ment by the Hon­ourable Ahmed Hussen, Min­is­ter of Im­mi­gra­tion, Refugees and Ci­ti­zen­ship and Rodger Cuzner, Par­lia­men­tary Sec­re­tary to the Min­is­ter of Em­ploy­ment, Workforce Devel­op­ment and Labour, is a step in the right di­rec­tion.

The Agri-Food Im­mi­gra­tion Pi­lot will al­low beef pro­duc­ers and pro­ces­sors ac­cess to much needed work­ers with the op­por­tu­nity for a path­way to per­ma­nent res­i­dency.

Be­gin­ning in 2020, the pi­lot will in­clude spots for 2,750 full time, nona­gri­cul­ture and agri-food work­ers.

Labour short­ages at the farm level and in beef pro­cess­ing have sig­nif­i­cantly limited the growth op­por­tu­ni­ties and over­all com­pet­i­tive­ness of Canadian beef pro­duc­ers.

A re­cent re­port from the Canadian Agri­cul­tural Hu­man Re­source Coun­cil (CAHRC) indicates the Canadian beef cat­tle sec­tor re­ported $334 mil­lion in lost sales due to un­filled va­can­cies on farms, ranches and feed­lots.

Ad­di­tion­ally, there are ap­prox­i­mately 1,700 empty butcher sta­tions at meat pro­cess­ing plants across Canada.

Ac­cord­ing to the CAHRC re­port, which ex­am­ines workforce is­sues in the agri­cul­tural sec­tor to 2029, cur­rent chronic work­place short­ages in the beef sec­tor com­pounded by high rates of re­tire­ment will re­sult in beef pro­duc­ers ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the sec­ond largest de­cline in labour sup­ply within agricultur­e over the fore­cast pe­riod.

At a time when global de­mand for an­i­mal protein is grow­ing, a strong labour force is in­stru­men­tal for Canada to seize the op­por­tu­nity to sup­ply more of its high-qual­ity beef world­wide, ex­plained CCA Pres­i­dent David Hay­wood-Farmer.

“Proac­tively ad­dress­ing workforce short­ages in the beef sec­tor is a top pri­or­ity for the CCA,” he said.

“CCA and all partners in Canadian agricultur­e need a strong labour sup­ply and work­ers with the right skills to grow food pro­duc­tion in Canada.”

The Canadian beef cat­tle in­dus­try con­trib­utes $18 bil­lion to GDP an­nu­ally, and gen­er­ates an es­ti­mated 228,000 jobs in Canada, with every job in the sec­tor yield­ing an­other 3.56 jobs else­where in the econ­omy.

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