Governments Advancing Career Choice in Ontario’s Agri-food Sector

New Funding to Address Labour Challenges in the Sector

October 21, 2021
Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs

MISSISSAUGA – The governments of Canada and Ontario are investing up to $1.5 million through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership to address agri-food labour challenges and build a strong and resilient labour force to keep grocery store shelves stocked and Ontario’s agri-food supply chain running.

Starting today, a new intake is open to support industry-led projects that promote and attract jobseekers to careers in the agri-food sector, help them gain the skills and training needed to build a successful career, and ensure Ontario’s food supply chain is protected.

“Labour challenges continue to be one of the leading bottlenecks to growth in our agriculture sector,” said the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food. “At the same time, there are countless quality and dynamic job opportunities for Canadians looking for rewarding careers. This cost-shared funding for employee attraction, training and retention helps bridge that divide between employable Canadians and labour shortages, and is vital to ensure the long-term prosperity of the sector.”

The new intake will fund efforts to address the ongoing labour shortage that has been amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council (CAHRC) stated that 16,500 agricultural jobs went unfilled in 2017 across Canada and estimates the shortfall to grow to 123,000 by 2029. Ontario is expected to represent the largest share of the shortfall.

“Investing in a strong workforce for the agri-food sector is vital to our economy and our rural communities,” said Lisa Thompson, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. “We want to attract and train people interested in building a successful career in an increasingly high-tech agriculture industry to take advantage of these opportunities. This initiative will do just that and will help position the sector for long-term growth.”

Projects may be eligible for up to 70 per cent funding of eligible expenses to a maximum $250,000. Eligible projects will have to be completed by September 30, 2022 and include:

Implementing new, enhanced or expanded approaches to attract and retain labour
Planning, analyzing and assessing labour force needs
Implementing training to address identified workforce needs, including training to improve food safety and traceability, labour productivity or tech-focused skills gap.
“For the past 19 months, Ontario’s agriculture workers have been on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, keeping food on tables in communities across the province,” said Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development. “Careers in agri-food provide people with rewarding, well-paying jobs, but there are not enough workers available. That is why our government is taking steps to ensure employers have access to the talent they need to grow their businesses.

“Labour is the number one issue right now for our sector. This investment helps address agri-food labour challenges and build a strong and resilient labour force. In partnership with government, we share in the common goal of connecting jobseekers with exciting career opportunities,” said Chris Conway, CEO, Food and Beverage Ontario. “Our thanks to the Ministries of Labour, Training and Skills Development as well as Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs recognizing the importance of this issue.”

Since June 2018, both the federal and provincial governments have committed over $100 million in cost-share support to more than 5,000 projects through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership to help eligible Ontario farmers, processors, businesses and sector organizations innovate and grow.

Quick Facts

  • The Canadian Agricultural Partnership is a five-year, $3 billion investment by Canada’s federal, provincial and territorial governments to strengthen and grow Canada’s agri-food and agri-products sectors, ensuring continued innovation, growth and prosperity. This commitment includes $2 billion for programs that are cost-shared on a 60/40 basis by the federal and provincial and territorial governments and are designed and delivered by provinces and territories.
  • Applications for this new cost-share intake under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership will be accepted starting on October 21, 2021 and will continue to be accepted while funding is available.
  • Program materials including the application form and program guide will be available online through OMAFRA:
  • Approved projects must be completed by September 30, 2022.
  • For more information about the programming contact OMAFRA by emailing or calling 1-877-424-1300.
  • The Ontario agri-food sector supports more than 861,000 jobs in Ontario and contributes more than $46.3 billion each year to the province’s economy.

Additional Resources

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