November 9, 2021 – Ottawa: Food and Beverage Canada is calling on the Federal-Provincial-Territorial (FPT) Ministers of Agriculture to establish an FPT Labour Task Force to address the severe labour shortages facing Canada’s food and beverage processing sector.
“Canada’s food system is the foundation of this country’s national food sovereignty. Our food system contributes to Canada’s national, provincial, territorial, and regional economies, it supports our international trade goals, and it underpins local food production and food security,” said Kathleen Sullivan, CEO of Food and Beverage Canada. “The impacts of this labour crisis are real and are felt across all products, company sizes, and regions”.
Food and Beverage Canada is calling on the FPT Ministers of Agriculture to establish an FPT Labour Task Force, to consult and work with industry, with a two-part mandate:
1. To identify and implement immediate actions to alleviate the labour crisis facing the agri-food sector now and over the coming 18 months, with a focus on an Emergency Temporary Foreign Workers Program.
2. To identify longer term goals and measures with a focus on the barriers which have already been identified by the sector – related to skilled trades, automation, foreign workers, and infrastructure. This work would seek to support the sector through the Next Agriculture Policy Framework scheduled to take effect March 31, 2023, in which labour should be an overriding priority and focus. To support these efforts, the FPT Labour Task Force should depend on the insight that can be provided by industry, as well as the important work begin done by the Canadian Agricultural Human Resources Council (CAHRC), in partnership with Food and Beverage Canada and the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, as part of their Future Skills Centre funded project entitled “National Workforce Strategy for Agriculture and Food & Beverage Manufacturing”.
“Ministers are encouraged to take up this challenge,” said Michael Burrows, Co-Chair Food and Beverage Canada. “Quite simply, the actions we take now will determine whether labour is the key driver of our food system or the key impediment to its progress.”
Food and Beverage Canada repeated this call to action during a panel event on labour, which took place this morning at the FPT Agriculture Ministers meeting. Kathleen Sullivan, CEO of Food and Beverage Canada, chaired a panel discussion including Michael Burrows, CEO of Maple Lodge Farms, Co-Chair Food and Beverage Canada, and Chair Food and Beverage Ontario; Daniel Vielfaure, Deputy Group CEO Americas, Bonduelle, and Co-Chair Food and Beverage Canada; and Rosemary MacLellan, Vice President, Strategy and Industry Affairs, Gay Lea Foods.
Director of Communications, Food and Beverage Canada