According to a new study, Canada needs 30,000 permanent immigrants over the next ten years to either start their own farms or take over those that already exist in order to overcome an upcoming labor shortage in the agricultural sector.
40% of Canadian farm operators will retire by 2033, according to a Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) study, putting agriculture on the verge of one of the greatest leadership and labor changes in the nation’s history.
24,000 general farm, nursery, and greenhouse workers will be needed throughout the same time period, and in 10 years, 60% of current farm operators will be over 65, or close to retirement.
Despite this, the study found that 66% of farmers lack a succession plan, casting doubt on the future of farming.
Although the agriculture industry in Canada is one of the most diverse in the world, the level of demand for foreign labor varies greatly by province and business.
Canada has long welcomed additional highly skilled agricultural operators from countries like India, the Netherlands, China, the US, and the UK.
There is a need for stronger regulations regarding the immigration of low-skilled workers, the study concluded, because the Temporary Foreign Workers (TFW) program, which remains a vital source of low-skilled labor, represents only a temporary solution.
Since many of these TFWs must briefly return home after developing skills crucial to planting and harvesting, Canada’s on-farm labor is significantly reduced if they are unable to do so.
A pathway to permanent residency for seasoned TFWs, according to RBC researchers, will quickly solve this kind of shortfall.
According to a CBC News story, Canada began an agriculture-specific immigration pilot program in 2020 to provide non-seasonal workers with expertise with a road to permanent residency. The program is scheduled to finish in May 2023.
In the province of Ottawa, more than 1,500 persons had been admitted as of February 2023.
According to CBC, the department is evaluating the pilot scheme “and the potential extension beyond its scheduled expiry.”
Giving immigrants permanent residence, the spokeswoman continued, “is not the solution to labor shortages.”