The governments of Canada and Ontario today announced they are investing in several projects that will support labour and training needs in the farming sector, including committing more than $180,000 for the development of a new college program that will provide education and training in the latest agricultural equipment.
Through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership (the Partnership), the federal and provincial governments will assist Conestoga College in the creation, launch and delivery of a pilot program to expand the training opportunities for current farm sector employees and better prepare those interested in careers in agriculture to work on farms in key areas.
Students will learn skilled trades in high demand areas such as spraying and fertilizing operations, custom tillage and harvesting operations. The project is one of several recently approved by the governments to help primary agriculture, food processing companies and food retailers to recruit and train workers who are critical in keeping the province’s essential food supply functioning.
“Access to skilled labour is critical on farms and in processing facilities and this pilot program will help farmers meet their labour needs while allowing more Canadians to obtain meaningful and challenging employment in the agricultural and agri-food sector,” said the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food. “A skilled agricultural workforce will unlock the tremendous potential of our agri-food industry, and help our farmers and food processors to continue to drive our economy, create jobs and feed Canada and the world.”
“Helping to meet the labour and training needs of our agri-food sector is a priority for this government. Supporting those with a passion for a career in agriculture is key to our economy and ensures our food supply chain continues to produce healthy and nutritious food for Ontario families,” said the Honourable Ernie Hardeman, Ontario Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. “Our government is doing everything possible to ensure farmers both today and those in the future have the training and skills necessary to operate their farm operations effectively.”
“Ontario has a diverse agriculture and food processing sector requiring a wide range of skilled labour,” said the Honourable Filomena Tassi, federal Minister of Labour. “We are pleased to invest now to support the food value chain for the future.”
“Agriculture is by far the biggest single industry in Brant and Brantford,” said Will Bouma, MPP for Brantford-Brant. “To see the Governments of Ontario and Canada come together to support the development of a new college program to train in the latest agricultural equipment can only strengthen our goal of food self-sufficiency in Ontario.”
Through a targeted intake under the Partnership’s Place to Grow: Agri-Food Innovation Initiative, the governments have also recently committed up to $594,000 to projects to boost labour supply and training in the agri-food sector. In addition to the Conestoga College program, the governments have approved:
- $396,000 for the Ontario Federation of Agriculture to develop a comprehensive support system for businesses in the agriculture and food sector to target communities affected by workforce shortages in the agri-food sector due to COVID-19, including a job matching and labour recruiting service;
- $198,000 for Food and Beverage Ontario to develop and complete a six-month marketing campaign to build confidence with frontline food workers, support business continuity for Ontario’s food and beverage processing sector, and support the operational stability of Ontario’s food and beverage processing sector during COVID-19 challenges.
“We greatly appreciate the province’s investment in this important initiative,” said John Tibbits, President, Conestoga College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning. “As well as addressing critical workforce needs in Ontario’s agriculture and food sector, the Agriculture Equipment Operator training initiative will provide opportunities for local residents to develop in-demand skills, advance their careers and contribute to the success and well-being of the community.”
Since June 2018, both the federal and provincial governments have committed support to more than 3,900 projects, through the Partnership, to help eligible Ontario farmers, processors, businesses and sector organizations innovate and grow.