Canadian Poultry Magazine

Vacant jobs in agriculture costs producers $1.5 billion

By Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council   

Features New Technology Production Business/Policy Canada

Mar. 15, 2016, Ottawa, ON – Annual farm cash receipt losses to Canadian producers due to job vacancies are $1.5 B or three per cent of the industry’s total value in sales and production.

This is a key finding of newly released Labour Market Information (LMI) research by the Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council (CAHRC) during the ‘Growing the AgriWorkforce Summit’ in Winnipeg. The LMI research also revealed that primary agriculture still has the highest industry job vacancy rate at 7 per cent. The research was based on 2014 figures.

“The situation is critical now and will only get worse unless it is effectively addressed,” explains Portia MacDonald-Dewhirst, CAHRC Executive Director. “The Council has established the necessary collaborative channels with government and industry and now we need to continue to move forward to find solutions.”


The current gap between labour demand and the domestic workforce is 59,000 and projections indicate that by 2025, the Canadian agri-workforce could be short workers for 114,000 jobs. In response, industry efforts have been encouraging young people and workers from other sectors to get into agriculture as a career. Despite extensive efforts gaps still exist and there still will be a large void in the future.

Labour shortages create risks to farmers who can only hope they will have the same or greater access to both domestic and foreign workers in the future as they do now. The LMI study examined only primary production; agri-food industries such as food and beverage processors or input suppliers, which have additional labour demands, were not considered in the research. However, labour shortages affect both primary producers and food processors in Canada.

Effects of the projected gap in the agricultural workforce could extend beyond the farms and fields and into Canadian homes. Unfilled jobs in Canadian food processing plants force Canadian foods to be processed outside of Canada in places like the United States and Mexico where there are workers. This means Canada must import the food back in after processing, which adds to food costs for Canadians. These two factors together could have a significant impact on Canada’s ability to produce and process its own food.

The research indicates that the worker shortage is critical today and will be even more so ten years from now, with dire consequences for business viability, industry sustainability and future growth. Access to less labour for Canadian farmers now and into the future will affect food security for Canadian consumers and will also affect export potential of Canada’s entire agri-food industry.

The LMI research was derived from surveys, interviews and focus groups with 1034 representatives of Canadian agricultural organizations, employees, and employers – 813 of whom were primary producers.

More information on this and other LMI results can be found at The LMI research was funded by the Government of Canada’s Sectoral Initiatives Program.


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