Ottawa, February 12, 2024 – With nearly 8,000 food and beverage manufacturers dispersed across the country, the majority small and mid-sized enterprises (SMEs), this sector plays a pivotal role in our nation’s economic landscape. As Canada’s second-largest manufacturing sector and the largest manufacturing employer, food and beverage manufacturers are strategically positioned at the heart of our food supply chain.
From coast to coast, food and beverage manufacturers transform raw farm products into everyday essentials, underscoring the sector’s significance in ensuring Canada’s food sovereignty, supporting primary agriculture, and fortifying local food security. As the industry faces unprecedented challenges, we are pleased to share our submission to the federal government for the 2024 federal budget, focused on three key pillars: Labour, Critical Infrastructure and Supply Chains, and Competitiveness.
RECOMMENDATION 1: The federal government continue to provide funding to support development and implementation of a National Workforce Strategic Plan for Agriculture and Food & Beverage Manufacturing.
RECOMMENDATION 2: The federal government make permanent the 30% Temporary Foreign Worker Program cap increase announced in 2022, recognizing that this flexibility is essential for companies navigating the changing nature of their workforce needs.
RECOMMENDATION 3: The federal government build on efforts to improve the Temporary Foreign Worker Program by simplifying the application process, increasing transparency for applicants through publicly available consolidated information on processing times, identifying measures to address processing delays, and creating pathways to permanent residency for foreign workers in critical sectors such as food and beverage manufacturing.
RECOMMENDATION 4: The federal government extend the Recognized Employer Pilot to allow companies to take advantage of it beyond one hiring cycle. This extension would provide ample time for assessment of the Pilot, ensuring the program’s effectiveness.
RECOMMENDATION 5: The federal government ensure a consistent and coordinated approach to support supply chain resilience for Canada’s food system, including:
- Timely implementation of all the recommendations laid out by the National Supply Chain Task Force to strengthen Canada’s transportation infrastructure system.
- Investing in measures to buffer Canada’s food system from external shocks and support food supply chain resilience, starting with a critical assessment of key risk factors and vulnerabilities along the food supply chain.
- Collaborating with provinces and territories to establish a coherent emergency management approach, prioritizing communication for Critical Infrastructure sectors.
- Ensuring that the National Supply Chain Office is equipped and empowered to respond to disruptions to Canada’s food supply chain.
RECOMMENDATION 6: The federal government collaborate with the food and beverage manufacturing sector to identify measures to mitigate the detrimental effects of labour disruptions on food supply, including exemptions for perishable products.
RECOMMENDATION 7: The federal government work with the food and beverage manufacturing sector to identify housing solutions for both domestic and foreign labour, providing support and partnering with industry to implement viable solutions.
RECOMMENDATION 8: The federal government introduce incentives for food and beverage manufacturing companies that specifically encourage investment in innovation. A customized program, tailored to the unique needs of companies, would not only foster broader adoption of innovative practices but also ensure the sector’s preparedness for the challenges and opportunities of the future.
RECOMMENDATION 9: Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) create a dedicated fund aimed at assisting Canadian companies in their transition towards adoption of more recyclable packaging materials. This fund should provide financial support and resources to encourage the development and implementation of sustainable packaging practices.
RECOMMENDATION 10: Before advancing the pollution prevention (P2) notice for primary food packaging, the federal government conduct an in-depth study of the current packaging materials available in the market, with a specific focus on the food sector. Additionally, extensive consultations with industry should be conducted to ensure that the packaging industry is adequately equipped to meet the increased demand for sustainable materials.
RECOMMENDATION 11: Before advancing the pollution prevention (P2) notice for primary food packaging, the federal government engage in meaningful consultations with federal, provincial, territorial and municipal counterparts. This collaborative effort aims to identify existing recycling standards and capabilities across jurisdictions, to avoid contradictions or inefficiencies.