Skip to main content

Report on Business Canada’s farm labour shortage is costing billions and expected to rise: report

Canada’s farm labour deficit is expected to double by 2029 to 123,000 workers, or one in three jobs, as shortages continue to hit the sector’s bottom line, the Canadian Agriculture Human Resource Council said on Tuesday.

Farmers in Canada have long reported challenges in recruiting farm workers because the rural-based work traditionally involves a high degree of manual labour, long hours and is often seasonal.

In 2017, Canada’s agriculture sector was short 16,500 workers, a labour crunch that cost farmers $2.9-billion in lost revenue, the council said in a new report on Canada’s agricultural work force prepared with the Conference Board of Canada.

Story continues below advertisement

“In the coming years, the gap between the sector’s labour requirements and the available pool of domestic labour is expected to widen considerably, a trend that would place more agricultural businesses at risk and seriously impede the sector’s growth potential,” the report said.

The agriculture industry’s struggle to find domestic workers means farmers are heavily reliant on temporary foreign labour, brought to Canada though various streams of the Temporary Foreign Worker program. Foreign labour now accounts for 17 per cent of the sector’s employees.

On Tuesday, the council said the agriculture sector’s job-vacancy rate is “the highest of any major sector in the Canadian economy.” About two million Canadians are employed by Canada’s agriculture and agri-food sector, accounting for one in eight jobs or 12 per cent of total Canadian employment.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government challenged Canada’s agriculture industry to increase its exports to $75-billion by 2025. Canada is currently the world’s fifth largest exporter of agricultural goods.

Your time is valuable. Have the Top Business Headlines newsletter conveniently delivered to your inbox in the morning or evening. Sign up today.

Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Cannabis pro newsletter