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Food security in Canada is threatened by labor shortages

Food security in Canada is threatened by labor shortages

A report by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) published on Tuesday warned that a labor shortage in the agricultural sector is limiting productivity and growth in the sector, and threatening Canada’s food supply.

According to data from the CFIB, 74% of agricultural business owners are working longer hours due to understaffing, and 61% have had to ask their employees to work more to make up for the understaffing. Nearly half (48%) have been forced to decline sales or contracts, while 41% have reduced their service offer.

“We need policies that support our farmers and agribusiness operators to ensure the sector’s productivity and competitiveness,” CFIB Vice President of National Affairs Yasmine Janet said in a press release.

“Solutions must be found to the labor shortage in agriculture. It limits the productivity and growth of the sector, and threatens Canada’s food supply.”

For the vast majority of agricultural SME owners surveyed (94%), higher input prices are also affecting their businesses, while 83% lamented the problems caused by supply chain disruptions.

According to the CFIB’s Business Barometer, small business owners in the agricultural sector have been the least optimistic about the future of their business over the past six months.

Four out of five farmers said they would not advise anyone to start a business due to a labor shortage. This situation is particularly worrying due to the large number of retired workers and the insufficient number of young people turning to agricultural jobs. “We need to make sure that agriculture is an attractive career option for the next generation of farmers and agribusiness operators,” said Taylor Brown, Senior Policy Analyst at CFIB.

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The CFIB believes that to help these companies, policymakers must, among other things, reduce the tax burden, particularly payroll taxes and the federal carbon tax. The union also recommends simplifying immigration programs and processes for temporary foreign workers to bring more of them into the country more quickly.