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Agriculture

Alberta needs to fill agriculture jobs, amid a Covid- 19 created foreign worker shortage

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6 minute read

Albertans out of work because of the COVID-19 pandemic, have a new resource to find a work in the province’s essential agriculture businesses and companies that make-up the food supply chain.

“There are great job opportunities on Alberta farms and ranches.” Devin Dreeshen, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry announced at the Alberta Legislature as the government launched a new web-based support page called, Agriculture Job Connector. Dreeshen added, “this new website will help Albertans find an exciting new job in this essential service.”

A pork farm worker in an open sow housing unit in Alberta. Photo Courtesy/Maple Leaf Foods

Alberta is not the only jurisdiction in Canada and around the world that is having problems filling farm and food supply chain jobs.

In the United Kingdom, due to temporary farm worker restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic, farmers have been scrambling to find workers so the crops can get planted and to stop crops from rutting on the trees or in the fields. Britons, usually make up only one percent of the temporary farm workforce. Citizens have responded to calls for a “new land army” to help fill the farm and food chain jobs. Up to 70,000 workers are needed. People looking for work have flocked to websites, searches for terms including “fruit picker” or “farm worker” surged by 338% and 107% respectively, with applications up 83% in the last month.

Alberta’s beekeeping industry and honey producers depend on temporary foreign workers during the busy season. Photo Courtesy/Alberta Beekeeper Commission

Family farms and companies throughout Alberta’s food supply chain rely on the “federal temporary foreign workers (TFW) program” to hire seasonal and full-time jobs that Albertans do not historical fill. Although the federal government recently announced loosing some of the TFW rules, the industry is nervous about a worker shortfall.  The coronavirus’ on-going world-wide travel restrictions, along with a mandatory 14-day quarantine, once a foreign worker arrives,  has raised serious concerns about a possible pending foreign worker shortage.

During this pandemic, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry is working to reinforce that the, ‘agriculture and agri-food industry has never been more critical to the health and safety of Albertans and to our economy.’ Dreeshen added, “Thank-you to all who continue to work that keep our food supply safe.”

A combine works a field of wheat in Alberta. Photo Courtesy/Alberta Wheat Commission

Alberta’s Agriculture Job Connector has opportunities for both skilled and non-skilled workers. Some posted job openings are for one person, others need up to as many as 50 new hires. Job openings in Alberta can be found through these links, Alberta Alis, AgCareers.com, Career in Foods, Alberta Cattle Feeders’ Association and Grasslands Recruitment Specialists. A sampling of some of the openings in Alberta, with the offer salaries can be found through the  links below.

A woman works at a beef cattle operation in Alberta.

Some of the jobs open in Alberta from the links above;

Click here to read more on Todayville Edmonton.

Agriculture

Red Deer – Mountain View MP Earl Dreeshen grills federal government on carbon tax affect on farmers

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From a Facebook post of Earl Dreeshen

May 14 Questions

Today I questioned the Federal Agricutlure Minister on the Liberal's anti Agriculture policies including the Carbon Tax.

Posted by Earl Dreeshen on Thursday, May 14, 2020

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Agriculture

Is the Meat Industry Equipped to Handle a Pandemic?

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Is the Meat Industry Equipped to Handle a Pandemic?

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted industries across the world. One of the main sectors that’s concerning experts is the meat and agriculture industry. This concern intensifies in Western Canada since much of the land there is farmland. The imbalance of supply and demand is affecting present-day agricultural production. However, farmers and industry leaders are focused on what is still to come in the future.

From labour shortages to potential outbreaks during production, the future of the meat industry is unclear. The outcome will depend on several factors: government aid, the spread of the virus and COVID-19’s behaviour — which is often unpredictable. Ultimately, the present handling of the meat industry may impact its future and relationship with consumers.

Current Standing

The Government of Canada recently decided to assist farms across the country with federal funding. These farms rely on the production and exportation of meats like beef, pork and chicken to reach supply and demand needs. However, as the virus continues spreading, farmworkers need to maintain physical distance and increase sanitation practices. The government’s funding will compensate workers during this time.

For Canada, part of the stress on the industry comes from the exportation needs. While farmers need to meet country-wide demands, Canada is also an international exporter, especially for the United States.

While the industry is currently suffering from labour shortages, production remains relatively stable. Farmers are adapting to meet new supply and demand requirements. For instance, since restaurants are closing, demands for certain foods, like cheese, will decrease. As workers fall ill and farms need to enforce social distancing, though, production is slowing down.

The funding from Canada’s federal government is supposed to help workers, especially those who are newly arriving. Migrants from Mexico and the Caribbean make up a large portion of Canada’s agricultural workforce. However, whether this funding will be enough is yet to come to light. Additionally, ensuring the even distribution of that money to migrant workers is another issue.

The Industry’s Future

Many experts are focusing on the road ahead. While the current path is fluctuating, the future may hold a more dangerous outcome for the industry. If the virus continues spreading at its current rate, farms may see more issues than ever before.

One of the main factors is the labour shortage. Currently, Canada’s farming labour force is lacking. Production is slow, and workers don’t have the resources and help they need to meet demands. In the future, this could worsen as fewer employees are available. For instance, the poultry sector faces significant demands every day. Part of the process of raising chickens includes weeks of tending to them. If there aren’t enough people to do this job, consumers will see the availability of chicken drop.

The issue of perishables will also present itself. As meat processing must be quick, slower production means more goods will go to waste. Meeting supply and demand requires healthy workers to keep the chain going.

The other major factor that will affect the industry is the spread of the virus. That depends on how the Canadian government handles COVID-19 and how efficiently people practice social distancing. Federal funding will aid production, but if the virus remains present, it will continue spreading. If it reaches processing plants, contamination will become a more serious issue than it already is.

Next Steps

To increase resources and support for farmers and migrant workers, the government will need to provide more emergency funding. This step allows the agriculture industry to invest in more tools, sanitation products, financial support and benefits for all workers. Monitoring the spread of the virus is also crucial. If the government can properly track and isolate cases, COVID-19 will dwindle in its effects. Then, meat industry workers will not have to worry about contracting or spreading the coronavirus.

Canadian Federal Government Taking Measures to Reduce Impact of COVID-19 on Agriculture

 

 

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july, 2020

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