National Workforce Strategy for Agriculture and Food & Beverage Manufacturing

October 13, 2021 (OTTAWA) – Food and Beverage Canada – Aliments et boissons Canada (FBC-ABC) is proud to partner with the Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council (CAHRC) and the Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) on the development of a National Workforce Strategy for Agriculture and Food & Beverage Manufacturing.

Launched today with funding from the Future Skills Center, this two-year project will seek to develop a national workforce strategy to address the ongoing workforce challenges experienced by the Canadian agriculture and food and beverage manufacturing sectors. Issues that will be explored include, but are not limited to, skills development, the impact of technology and automation on labour and the role of foreign workers in Canada’s food system.

In early 2021 FBC-ABC released its National Workforce and Recovery Action Plan which identified labour as the key issue preventing Canada’s food and beverage manufacturing sector from realizing its growth potential. Building on this important work, the National Workforce Strategy will develop actionable plans to ensure the industry has the skilled workforce needed to meet Canada’s food needs.

“Labour shortages have been a challenge for the food and beverage processing sector, since well before the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Kathleen Sullivan, CEO of Food and Beverage Canada. “This project will provide vital information to better understand the nature and cause of these systemic challenges, and will identify meaningful industry and government actions to resolve this signficant issue impacting Canada’s food system”.

Food and beverage is the largest manufacturing employer in Canada, with almost 300,000 workers. However, it is estimated that the sector is currently short 30,000 workers – 10 per cent of its workforce, and by 2025 we expect vacancies to double. Found in every province and region, the sector’s almost 8,000 companies play a critical role in contributing to Canada’s food sovereignty and economic well-being, and in supporting the country’s primary agriculture sector and international trade objectives. In addition to a shortage of workers, companies regularly report challenges in ensuring workers have the appropriate skills to match the needs of an evolving sector.

Media contact:
Kristina Proulx
Director of Communications, Food and Beverage Canada