THE DOC­TOR WILL SEE YOU NOW Pot so hot in Canada that firms are im­port­ing work­ers

StarMetro Toronto - - BIG OPINIONS - Kris­tine OWRAMBLOOMBERG

It was mid-sum­mer, less than three months be­fore Canada le­gal­ized recre­ational mar­i­juana, and Vic Neufeld had a prob­lem.

The chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of Aphria Inc. had just hired 50 peo­ple to work in the pot pro­ducer’s green­house in Leam­ing­ton, Ont., and by the end of the first week all but eight had quit.

“Those are re­ally hot, hu­mid months and work­ing in a green­house, as much cool­ing and air­flow as we can pro­vide, is still pretty darn hot in July and Au­gust,” Neufeld said.

A lack of qual­i­fied lo­cal labour forced Aphria to dis­pose of al­most 14,000 cannabis plants in the quar­ter ended Aug. 31 af­ter they weren’t har­vested in time, cost­ing it nearly $1 mil­lion. Since then, the com­pany has dou­bled the staff at its Aphria One green­house thanks in part to Canada’s Sea­sonal Agri­cul­ture Worker Pro­gram, which has al­lowed it to hire about 50 tem­po­rary work­ers from the Caribbean and Guatemala with plans to bring in up to

100 more.

Aphria’s ex­pe­ri­ence un­der­scores the swelling de­mand for labour in Canada’s cannabis sec­tor, where open­ings have tripled in the past year to

34 out of ev­ery 10,000 job post­ings, ac­cord­ing to em­ploy­ment search en­gine In­deed.com.

Canada’s li­censed pro­duc­ers em­ployed about 2,400 work­ers at the end of 2017, ac­cord­ing to Statis­tics Canada.

THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Nurses in­ter­act with a doc­tor on a se­cure video con­fer­ence link dur­ing a pi­lot “tele-round­ing” project at a hos­pi­tal in Al­ber­ton, P.E.I. Nine physi­cians are par­tic­i­pat­ing in the six-month project.

Jobs at Cana­dian cannabis grow­ers and re­tail­ers have spiked af­ter le­gal­iza­tion.

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