OFA to receive Canadian Agricultural Partnership funding to address agri-food labour supply and training challenges

ONTARIO — To keep Ontario’s food supply chain strong and store shelves stocked during the COVID-19 pandemic, employers along the agriculture and food value chain need support to recruit, train and connect workers to in-demand jobs across the agri-food sector.

The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) is pleased to announce the provincial and federal government’s support of OFA’s project proposal to rapidly develop a comprehensive support system for agriculture and food employers and job seekers.

“There is an ongoing need for workers on Canadian farms and across the agri-food sector, employing a wide range of skill sets,” said the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food. “This investment will support Ontarians to train and transition into these rewarding jobs and will help ensure that employers across the sector have the people they need to drive our economy and feed Canadians.”

“The Ontario government is committed to doing everything we can to support our farmers and food processors to meet their labour needs during this unprecedented time,” said Hon. Ernie Hardeman, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. “This project is one more way for us to invest in our farmers and the entire food supply chain so they can access the labour and training needed to continue delivering high-quality food to Ontario families.”

On April 17, the provincial and federal government opened a targeted intake for the Addressing Labour Supply and Training Challenges project category under the Place to Grow: Agri-Food Innovation Initiative.

The project, Enhancing Agri-Food Workforce Readiness Along the Value Chain, includes a job matching concierge, specialized agri-training, collaborative marketing, targeted regional needs, and rapid response initiatives to keep our essential food supply chain functioning.

OFA is partnering with AgCareers.com and CareersinFood.com to provide an enhanced job matching concierge for farmers and food and beverage processors to set up an online account, post job openings, and manage applications.

OFA will also partner to host virtual career fairs that dissolve geographic barriers, in partnership with several communities across the province. Beyond COVID-19, this platform will be particularly useful for rural and remote communities, where it can be difficult to congregate and recruit employees over vast geographies.

This project complements the provincial and federal government job portals; Ontario’s Agri-Food Jobs Portal and Canada’s Step up to the Plate – Help Feed Canadians initiative. These government portals provide excellent resources and websites that can be leveraged to streamline our efforts; ensuring the jobs are posted where job seekers will find them.

“We appreciate the government taking critical steps to support projects addressing labour demands and specialized training needs in our sector,” said Keith Currie, OFA President. “We are eager to work alongside our collaborative partners to deliver this project and bridge the labour gap in our industry, during COVID-19 and beyond.”

As the agri-food labour gap continues to widen beyond the current challenges of the pandemic, OFA aims to encourage those employed in the sector this year to consider their future prospects, with various educational opportunities for career advancement. The project will engage institutions that show leadership in agriculture and food education, and training to inform targeted program development and curriculum delivery.

OFA and our partners are looking forward to addressing labour challenges across commodities in every corner of the province to maintain a strong food supply chain through this pandemic. The agriculture and food sector is a driving force for economic recovery and renewal. For more details about the project, visit ofa.on.ca/feedingyourfuture.

The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) is the largest general farm organization in Ontario, representing 38,000 farm families across the province. As a dynamic farmer-led organization based in Guelph, the OFA works to represent and champion the interests of Ontario farmers through government relations, farm policy recommendations, research, lobby efforts, community representation, media relations and more. OFA is the leading advocate for Ontario’s farmers and is Ontario’s voice of the farmer.

This project will receive up to $396,000 in cost-share funding through the Canadian Agriculture Partnership, a five-year federal-provincial-territorial initiative.

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