Labour shortages are a critical and ongoing issue in agriculture. The Conference Board of Canada estimates that the size of the sector’s labour gap has doubled over the past decade, rising to 59,200 people in 2014, and is expected to double again in the next 10 years. The growing labour gap is being driven by a combination of circumstances, including an aging workforce, large seasonal fluctuations in employment, the rural location of many operations, and negative perceptions about working in the sector. Temporary foreign workers (TFWs) have played a major role in filling the labour gap in the past and will likely need to play a growing role in the future. This briefing looks at the important role of TFWs in alleviating the labour shortages in Canada’s agriculture sector and proposes an alternative way to think of TFWs in agriculture.
The briefing draws upon the research findings of a three-year research study conducted by the Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council, supported by the Conference Board, to examine the labour market situation in Canada’s agricultural industry.