June 1, 2020 -
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE -
MISSION, BC – Today, Brad Vis, Member of Parliament for Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon highlighted B.C. blueberry farmers’ major concerns of labour shortages to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, as well as the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion.
"I am hearing from dozens of farmers in the riding who are very concerned about having enough workers as the deadline to begin harvest looms a few short weeks away.” It is an issue that has been compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic, as it has become increasingly difficult to hire staff to work in the fields,” MP Vis said. “Justin Trudeau promised to address agricultural labour shortages putting our food security at risk, but so far, he has failed to achieve any progress.”
The emergency funding supports enacted by the federal government are not meeting the needs of agricultural producers in their current forms. The eligibility criteria of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) effectively negates its use for seasonal agricultural employers. Compounding this, the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and the Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB) programs unintentionally work against the interests of farmers seeking seasonal employees.
“Labour shortages are a significant obstacle for agricultural producers, an obstacle that threatens Canadian food security,” noted MP Vis. “That is why the Conservatives proposed the creation of a new program to match students and youth employees with jobs in the agriculture and agri-food sector,” stated MP Vis.
In a recent letter to the Minister, MP Vis encouraged Agriculture Canada to immediately implement a solution tailored to the seasonal labour requirements of the agricultural sector so that Canada’s domestic food supply chain is protected. Additionally, he advocated for a long overdue overhaul of Agriculture Canada’s Business Risk Management programs which the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, the Canadian Horticultural Council and numerous other agricultural bodies have called for is still missing.
“I am urging the federal government to take the necessary steps to safeguard Canada’s food supply chain and ensure that our agricultural producers are not driven into bankruptcy” said MP Vis.
Brittany Lang Constituency Manager