Industry disappointed in recent adjustments to the TFWP Workforce Solutions Road Map

Ottawa, March 25, 2024 – Canada’s food and beverage manufacturing sector expresses deep concern regarding the recently announced adjustments to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) Workforce Solutions Road Map. This announcement, which includes a reduction in the validity period of Labour Market Impact Assessments (LMIAs) and a decrease in the cap from 30% to 20%, presents significant challenges for our industry.

The food and beverage manufacturing sector is confronted with a pressing need to recruit and retain more than 92,500 additional individuals between now and 2030, with approximately 50,000 job vacancies already existing, according to Food Processing Skills Canada (FPSC). Our sector faces chronic labour shortages, which not only threatens our economic development and trade growth, but also jeopardizes Canada’s food security.

As noted at the press conference to announce these changes, only 9% of the temporary residents in Canada are temporary foreign workers under the TFWP. As participation in the program is contingent on employers demonstrating the lack of available Canadian workers for the position in question, it is incorrect to suggest that employers are demonstrating an unfounded reliance on the program.

Canada’s food and beverage manufacturers relied on the measures outlined in the TFWP Workforce Solutions Road Map, and expected them to remain in place until August 30, 2024, at minimum, as was recently announced. We initially commended the government for taking essential steps to provide stability for employers; however, this week’s announcement undermines the certainty that is essential for effective business planning.

We emphasize that the 30% cap, which applied only to seven sectors demonstrating significant labour and skills shortages, acknowledged the cyclical nature of business for many companies and offered crucial flexibility, particularly for those anticipating evolving workforce needs due to changing demographics. The decision to exclude food manufacturing from this measure moving forward ignores the ongoing significant impact of labour shortages on Canada’s food supply chain.

We are concerned that this week’s decision was made with little to no consultation with our sector and fails to recognize not only the importance of our industry, but the fragile nature of Canada’s food supply chain.

These unexpected and sudden changes will be particularly harmful in rural areas, where food and beverage manufacturing plays a vital role in the local economy, and where companies have demonstrated even more difficulty attracting labour.

We eagerly anticipate a meeting with officials in the near future to discuss the unique labour requirements of our sector and to underscore the adverse effects of this week’s announcement.

Kristina Farrell
Food and Beverage Canada – Aliments et boissons Canada (FBC-ABC)

Sylvie Cloutier
President and CEO
Conseil de la transformation alimentaire du Québec (CTAQ)

Chris Conway
Food and Beverage Ontario

James Donaldson
BC Food & Beverage

Bianca Parsons
Executive Director
Alberta Food Processors Association

Tammy Brideau
Executive Director
Food & Beverage Atlantic

Martin Barnett
Executive Director/General Manager
Baking Association of Canada

Paul Lansbergen
Fisheries Council of Canada

Ron Lemaire
Canadian Producer and Marketing Association