Canadian farmers reported $2.9 billion in lost sales in 2018 because of unfilled vacancies – an increase from $1.5 billion in 2014, according to the Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council (CAHRC).
Forty-six per cent of farmers who reported vacancies delayed or cancelled expansion plans, while many reported extreme stress for themselves and their workers.
Nearly 90 per cent of producers with unfilled jobs identified excessive stress and hours as a result of not being able to find the workers they required, said Labour Market Forecast to 2029.
However, total job vacancies in agriculture have declined to 16,500 from 26,400, largely as a result of the adoption of technology, and an increase in the number of international workers who fill jobs where no Canadians can be found, said the CAHRC.
While vacancy rates in agriculture are among the highest of any sector in Canada at 5.4 per cent (compared to the national average of just under 2.9 per cent), they have decreased from the 2014 rate of seven per cent.
“Labour shortages in Canadian agriculture can only be addressed by taking decisive action,” states Portia MacDonald-Dewhirst, executive director of CAHRC.
“By working together, we can find meaningful, creative solutions to increase the supply of labour and improve the skills of the sector’s workforce for the continued success and growth of agriculture across Canada.”
The agricultural labour market research was validated through industry consultations conducted Canada-wide involving 1,900 farm business owners, employees and stakeholder organizations.