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CAHRC: COVID-19 labour shortages had hefty costs for employers

April 15, 2021  By Potatoes in Canada

The Canadian Agricultural Human Resources Council (CAHRC) has released a report on the effects the COVID-19 pandemic has had on Canada’s agricultural workforce. The report covers data from a nation-wide survey and interviews commissioned by CAHRC and conducted by the Conference Board of Canada between Nov. 16, 2020, and Jan. 11, 2021.

Some key findings of the report:

  • Labour shortages are estimated to have resulted in $2.9 billion in lost sales, equivalent to roughly 4.2 per cent of the sector’s total sales;
  • Overall employment in agriculture was down over 5 per cent in 2020, with domestic employment down 4 per cent and temporary foreign worker (TFW) employment down 7 per cent;
  • 36 per cent of surveyed employers experienced labour shortages, at least some of which they attributed to COVID-19;
  • Among crop producers, labour shortages were most common in horticulture, with 55 per cent of employers in this industry unable to find all the workers they needed in 2020;
  • Roughly two-thirds of employers who reported TFW vacancies because of COVID-19 (68 per cent) cited that travel restrictions imposed by Canada or the home countries of TFWs prevented them from bringing in TFWs;
  • Labour shortages attributed to COVID-19 had significant impacts on farm operations, including excessive stress for owners and other staff, production delays, overtime costs, and delayed or canceled investment or expansion.


The full survey report is available through CAHRC’s website or by clicking here.

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