Government needs to address agri-business labour shortages, CFIB says

by Morinville Online Staff

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) says labour shortages have been negatively impacting Canadian agri-businesses. A new CFIB study indicates that 74 per cent of agri-business owners are working more hours to make up for staff shortages. Forty-eight per cent of businesses surveyed say they have had to turn down sales or contracts due to labour shortages. A smaller number 41 per cent have simply decreased their service offerings.

“We need policies that will support our farmers and agri-businesses to ensure the agriculture sector is competitive and productive and the current shortages of labour are prioritized. In a recent survey, we found that almost two-thirds (61%) of agri-business owners turned to their existing employees to work more hours due to lack of staff,” said CFIB Vice-President of National Affairs Jasmin Guenette in a Nov. 8 media release. “The prevailing labour shortages in agriculture must be addressed. It limits productivity and growth and is putting Canada’s food supply at risk.”

But labour shortages are not the only issue identified in the CFIB report. Ninety-four per cent  said increased input prices of inputs have impacted their business, while 83 per cent note difficulties with supply chains.

“Four in five agri-businesses say they would not advise someone to start a business because of labour shortages. This is concerning given the retiring population and lack of youth turning to agriculture for a career. We need to ensure agriculture is a viable career path for the next generation of farmers and agri-business professionals,” said CFIB Senior Policy Analyst Taylor Brown in the same release.

The business lobby group is encouraging policymakers to make the following changes:

  • Reducing the total tax burden on agri-businesses, including payroll taxes and the federal carbon tax
  • Streamlining and simplifying the Temporary Foreign Worker and immigration processes and programs to get more workers into Canada faster
  • Providing tax relief for the hiring of older workers and other underrepresented groups
  • Stimulating automation in agri-businesses through programs or tax credits

CFIB’s report can be found online at Help Wanted: Labour Shortages Threaten the Future of Canadian Agriculture report.

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