Conestoga news

July 3, 2022 6:43 PM

Federal government officials visit Conestoga to launch national agricultural labour strategy

Local Members of Parliament joined Francis Drouin, Parliamentary Secretary to Canada’s Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, at Conestoga’s Craig Richardson Institute of Food Processing Technology (IFPT) on June 27 to announce the launch of a consultation process to help address workforce challenges in the country’s agriculture and agri-food sector.

The sector is an important engine of economic growth for Canada, accounting for 1 in 9 jobs and employing more than 2.1 million people. It is the country’s largest manufacturing sector and generated more than $135 billion of Canada’s GDP in 2021. It feeds millions of people and serves as part of the country’s critical infrastructure.

The National Agricultural Labour Strategy is intended to address the chronic labour shortages that prevent the sector from achieving its full potential and increasing its contribution to global food security.

“A skilled and reliable labour force is an important part of our resilience as a sector,” said Drouin. “The strategy will help to ensure that Canada continues to deliver the high quality of food needed in our country and around the world.”

An online consultation process has been launched to gather input on recommendations intended to enable the sector to attract a skilled workforce. A broad range of stakeholder groups from across the country will be engaged to develop the strategy and ensure it reflects the unique needs of the sector.

The consultation process is open until September 28, 2022.

Local Members of Parliament joining MP Drouin for the announcement were Bryan May (Cambridge), Tim Louis (Kitchener-Conestoga), Valerie Bradford (Kitchener South - Hespeler) and Hon. Bardish Chagger (Waterloo).

In his remarks, Conestoga President John Tibbits expressed appreciation for the government’s commitment to addressing widespread labour shortages and said: “We look forward to working with you to develop solutions to current workforce challenges, build a skilled agriculture and agri-food workforce and safeguard Canada’s future.”

IFPT, located within Conestoga’s Cambridge (Fountain Street) campus opened in 2012 to help meet the workforce needs of Ontario’s food and beverage manufacturing industry. The facility provides education, training, research and technological solutions for the sector and develops multi-skilled graduates with leadership and plant-floor expertise.

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