Canada’s Food and Beverage Manufacturing Industry Sounds Alarm Over Changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program

[Ottawa, May 28, 2024] – Food and Beverage Canada – Aliments et boissons Canada (FBC-ABC) and Canada’s six provincial and regional food and beverage manufacturing associations are raising concerns over recent changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP), emphasizing the detrimental effects the changes could have on the industry’s labour challenges. The industry is also increasingly concerned that the Federal Government is considering further changes to the program which could undermine Canada’s food supply.

Chronic labour shortages and critical skills gaps have plagued the industry, posing significant threats to Canada’s food production levels, local food security, and the industry’s economic sustainability and trade growth.

“The inability to meet current labour needs will have a direct impact on domestic food security and affordability,” stated Kristina Farrell, CEO of Food and Beverage Canada. “Without access to a stable labour pool, companies are forced to make difficult decisions, including discontinuing production lines, importing products, and postponing expansion plans and investments.”

Temporary Foreign Workers (TFWs) serve as valuable assets to communities, supporting local economies and filling crucial roles within the food and beverage manufacturing industry. The majority of companies utilizing the program adhere to strict regulations and compliance measures to safeguard the rights and well-being of workers and would like the Federal Government to assist us in debunking misconceptions suggesting misuse of the program.

There is nothing “temporary” about the jobs we seek to fill. Limited pathways for TFWs to obtain permanent residency pose challenges for securing year-round and permanent jobs. While encouraged by recent comments on addressing temporary residency through permanent pathways, we urge the Federal Government to establish programs facilitating permanent residency for TFWs and ensuring immigration pathways for critical industries like food and beverage manufacturing. Additionally, we ask the Federal Government to consider the backlogs on evaluating refugee claimants and timing around work permits, as many of our companies remain eager to hire refugee claimants.

“The Alberta Food Processors Association (AFPA) is concerned about the potential financial implications of changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFW) on our member businesses. A crippled workforce, already depleted, could force AFPA companies to reduce production and even cancel large food orders to major retailers. Without adequate staff, many of our members will be forced to cut back on food and beverage production. Even with the TFW program in place, we have consistent job openings within Alberta’s food and beverage sector. Labour shortages remain one of our biggest challenges.” – Bianca Parsons Executive Director of the Alberta Food Processors Association (AFPA)

Our associations will, on behalf of our members, continue to ask the Federal Government to hear the concerns of producers and processors as we work to improve food security and strengthen the resilience of the industry. We urge the Federal Government to work with us on these important aims through consultation and dialogue, including collaboration on the National Agricultural Labour Strategy.

Food and Beverage Canada – Aliments at boissons Canada
Alberta Food Processors Association
BC Food & Beverage
Food and Beverage Ontario
Food & Beverage Atlantic
Conseil de la transformation alimentaire du Québec (CTAQ)
Food and Beverage Manitoba

Media contact:
Kristina Farrell
CEO, Food and Beverage Canada