Canada must act now to address the labour shortage and protect the food supply

Ottawa, December 16, 2021 – Today, the federal government has shown it has heard the pleas of the
food and beverage manufacturing industry and understands the urgency of the debilitating workforce
crisis crippling businesses across Canada.

The mandate letters issued to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and the Minister of
Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion leave no doubt about the necessity of
immediate action. Canada must act now to address the labour shortage and protect Canada’s food
supply and security.

Canada’s leading food and beverage manufacturing associations have been sounding the alarm on the
pan-Canadian crisis and welcome the government’s acknowledgement and commitment to developing a
plan, but highlight that immediate action is required to avoid severe disruptions in 2022.

“We are very pleased that this directive has been issued now before it is too late,” said Kathleen
Sullivan, CEO of Food and Beverage Canada. “Across all products, company sizes, and regions, food and
beverage manufacturers are reporting job vacancy rates of over 20%. Without action, the inability to
meet current labour needs will have a significant impact on domestic food security and food
affordability, and the ability of Canadians to readily access the food they want”.

While the Minster’s mandate to develop a plan to address persistent and chronic labour shortages in
farming and food processing is an immediate priority, specific actions are needed now to avoid negative
impacts in 2022. A coalition of Canada’s food manufacturing industry associations is calling for an
emergency foreign worker program from this January through Summer 2023 to address immediate
shortages as permanent and long-term solutions to the industry’s labour issues can be developed and

“For many in our industry, access to labour in key harvest and packaging periods means the difference
between being able to get products on Canadian shelves or significant loss of product and revenue, food
waste, increased prices and decreased choice for Canadian consumers. The labour shortage impacts are
devastating for members, but without immediate support, Canadians will be feeling the effects at their
grocery stores, bakeries and everywhere they buy domestic food products.”

Coalition members include:
• Food and Beverage Canada
• Le Conseil de la transformation alimentaire du Québec (CTAQ)
• the Canadian Poultry and Egg Processors Council
• Food and Beverage Ontario, the Canadian Meat Council
• BC Food & Beverage
• the Canadian Produce Marketing Association
• the Baking Association of Canada
• Food & Beverage Manitoba
• Food & Beverage Atlantic

For more information, or to schedule an interview please contact:
Carrie Croft
or Kristina Proulx