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


April 15, 2021
By Potatoes in Canada

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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.

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