Addressing Agri-Food Sector Labour Force Challenges
Business Strategy

Addressing Agri-Food Sector Labour Force Challenges

With the ongoing labour shortage within the agriculture sector brought on by the pandemic, the Canadian federal and provincial governments are investing up to $1.5 million into a new cost-sharing program called Addressing Agri-Food Sector Labour Force Challenges. This program is designed to help address the agri-food sectors recent labour force challenges and will be administered through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP).

“Labour is the number one issue right now for our sector. This investment helps address agri-food labour challenges and build a strong and resilient labour force. In partnership with government, we share in the common goal of connecting jobseekers with exciting career opportunities,” said Chris Conway, CEO, Food and Beverage Ontario.

Ontario based sole applicants and not-for-profit organizations that are involved in the agriculture, agri-food, and agri-products sectors are eligible to apply. For-profit organizations are ineligible for funding through this program. All eligible projects will have to be completed by September 30, 2022.

Funding Snapshot: Addressing Agri-Food Sector Labour Force Challenges

Funding Amount:

Eligible applicants can receive up to 70% of eligible costs to a maximum of $250,000. The amount of funding provided to successful applicants will be determined on a case-by-case basis based on the impacts and budget of the project.

Applicant Eligibility:

Applicants who are eligible for funding through the Addressing Agri-Food Sector Labour Force Challenges program will need to meet one of the following eligibility criteria:

  • Project partnerships of Ontario-based not-for-profit organizations (including Indigenous communities and municipalities) involved in the agriculture, agri-food and agri-products sector that:
    • Are heavily impacted by labour shortages; and
    • Have the capacity to address gaps currently facing the sector and/or region.
  • Sole applicants are eligible, however collaborations are preferred.
  • For-profit applicants are ineligible.

Eligible Projects:

The Addressing Agri-Food Sector Labour Force Challenges program supports eligible businesses with projects that help address the ongoing supply chain and workforce issues. The full list of eligible projects can be found below:

  • Investigate challenges related to labour supply access, and identify opportunities to strengthen access to suitable labour supply and labour retention in the sector;
  • Support activities that require additional data or validation prior to the implementation of labour attraction or training projects;
  • Work to characterize and understand methods to reach identified labour force audiences;
  • Implement new or enhanced approaches to attracting or retaining labour (e.g. promotion of in-demand skills and career opportunities in the sector); and
  • Develop/implement new or existing programs or expand existing successful sector specific training approaches that address identified current and emerging challenges.

Eligible Activities:

Activities that are eligible for funding will help retain and attract talent within your workforce, as well as other necessary requirements for getting your workplace running at pre-pandemic conditions. These activates include:

  • Implementing new, enhanced or expanded approaches to attract, train or retain labour, such as:
    • Marketing and promotional activities
    • First-time planning, organizing and/or participating in workforce recruitment events in Canada (beyond normal business)
  • Needs assessments, plans, audits or analysis.
  • Implementing new, existing or proven training approaches that address specific identified workforce needs including training related to Food Safety and Traceability, improved labour productivity or another labour skills gap.
  • Providing direct support for people working on the project for labour expenses such as travel costs, accommodations, meals, etc.

Program Timeline:

Applications are currently open for the Addressing Agri-Food Sector Labour Force Challenges program as of the date this blog was published and will remain open until funds are depleted. Eligible projects cannot start prior to the date that OMAFRA approves the project. Projects must be implemented and completed no later than September 30, 2022.

Apply for the Addressing Agri-Food Sector Labour Force Challenges Fund

The Addressing Agri-Food Sector Labour Force Challenges program is accepting applications until the $1.5 million in funding has been depleted. You can find the application form and program guide available online through the OMAFRA website.

Ontario agri-food businesses can get access to downloading our free Ontario agri-food businesses white paper, which was recently updated for 2021. This guide explores three broad topics: (1) Managing your agri-business, (2) Growing your agri-business, and (3) Financing your agri-business.

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