The University of Calgary School of Public Policy with author, Robert Falconer, has released the first of two reports that examine the role of temporary foreign workers (TFWs) in Canadian agriculture. The report includes a sector-by-sector overview in the agricultural and transportation sectors of each province, the risks they face in light of COVID-19, and how policy-makers might address these risks and secure Canada’s food supply chain.
According to Falconer, “In total, there has been a 14-per-cent drop in the arrival of TFWs working in Canadian agriculture this year. Producers in the secondary agricultural sector, such as meat-processing and seafood-processing facilities, had been experiencing the fastest growth in the use of TFWs until now, and have seen the greatest relative reduction in TFW arrivals in comparison to 2019. Farms, which are primary producers, have experienced the largest reduction in TFW arrivals in absolute terms.”
“Although the economic effects of the pandemic-related lockdown have put many Canadians out of work, replacing TFWs with Canadian workers may not be practicable. Producers may not be able to hire Canadians willing to work on farms, ranches or in food-processing plants in sufficient numbers to make up for the shortfall in TFWs.”
Policy-makers will need to consider ways to ensure that TFWs, which have become critical to Canada’s food supply chain, are able to come to Canada safely and work in safe environments, in the face of the pandemic health risk.
The report can be found online at www.policyschool.ca/publications/
Source: University of Calgary July 14, 2020 news release