The labor shortage in the food and agricultural industry has been worsened by the recent Temporary Foreign Worker Program reforms, according to the Canadian Agricultural Human Resources Council.
The new reforms of the program have been brought on since the controversial issue of alleged abuse of foreign workers by employers. This include a limit on hiring foreign workers in sectors where the unemployment rate is at 6%.
In response to these reforms the food and agricultural industry has sought changes including extensions to make it easier to bring in speciality professions, such as butchers and meat cutters. These positions; however, are classified as low-skilled and ineligible for entry according to Canadian immigration policy. This area of the food industry requires serious attention from the government since the meat and livestock industry currently has to ship product to American plants for slaughter and processing. Canadian plants lack the capacity to process their own and this is costing us several jobs and export sales to foreign markets.
Many food industry executives find the new reforms to be overreaching and a detrimental to the industry’s success rate. Although the government is currently negotiating new trade deals which are crucial for the food and agriculture industry, the reforms to the temporary foreign worker program have severely impaired the production capabilities of many companies. This s detrimental for our food industry’s ability t compete in the international market.
Despite limited profit margins, in order to address the concerns of critics of the temporary foreign worker program the meat industry has increased wages by 3.4% this year, one of the largest increases across all industries, according to Farm Credit Canada. This has not seemed to help the increasing amount of vacancies in the Canadian meat plants.