Canada’s food and beverage manufacturers call for action to address labour shortages in today’s Fall Economic Statement

Ottawa, December 14, 2021 – Canada’s leading food and beverage manufacturing associations are calling on the Minister of Finance, the Honourable Chrystia Freeland, to announce measures to address the debilitating workforce crisis being faced by food and beverage manufacturers across the country.

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, Food & Beverage Manitoba, Food & Beverage Atlantic, the Baking Association of Canada, and the Canadian Produce Marketing Association are jointly calling on the federal government to address industry’s pressing labour crisis.

“Across all products, company sizes, and regions, food and beverage manufacturers are reporting debilitating job vacancy rates of over 20%”, said Kathleen Sullivan, CEO of Food and Beverage Canada. “Although food and beverage manufacturing is only one of several sectors undergoing labour shortages, 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”.

One such example is Maple Lodge Farm’s Brampton facility, which employs about 1300 workers but is now chronically short 200 workers every day. The facility has had to make substantial changes in product offerings and has substantially added to overtime, placing even more demands on employees that have already experienced burnout due to the pandemic.

As the labour situation worsens, Canada’s leading food and beverage manufacturing associations are working together to ask the federal government to implement an Emergency Foreign Worker Program by January 31, 2022, at the latest. This Program should remain in place for 18 months, through to summer 2023, during which time more permanent and long-term solutions to industry’s labour issues should be identified and phased in.

As a first step, recognition of the industry’s ongoing labour shortages and the impact on food security and economic recovery and a commitment to work with the industry in the coming months to address these challenges would be a welcome signal from the government.

For more information, please contact:

Kristina Proulx