The Communicator

December 2023 Issue – See All

What’s New in the Canadian Ag Labour Market?

A look at the country’s labour forecast through 2030.

The winter 2023-2024 plans for CN and CPKC

A look at some of the issues Canada’s Big-2 railroads are most concerned about and what they have planned for the winter of 2023-2024.

Strikes—the cost of doing business

Another strike means another disruption to the way Canada does business. A look at how legal strikes impact our country.

Valued Ag Associations

Why do agricultural associations exist?

Keepin’ it real

Some advice on how the ag community can maintain its workforce well.

Clearing the air on carbon tax

Andrew Joseph, Editor

Sometimes, people and governments toss out new words or phrases and expect everyone to follow along.

Such is the case with carbon taxes.

Most of us have a peripheral understanding of the concept.

But, when we look to learn more online, we are met with a wall of words written by academics—words that are complex in verbiage and not easily understood by the layman.

So, let's start at the beginning and decode some of the academic source material.

What is a carbon tax?

If a company produces a product and creates carbon emissions while doing so, that company is asked to pay a carbon tax.

Carbon taxes are placed on carbon-based fuels and industries that produce carbon emissions.

Why? Why do you have to pay a carbon tax?

Because carbon emissions are considered bad for one’s health and the environment, countries are being asked to reduce the amount of carbon emissions produced to lessen the danger to the world as a whole.

The idea behind the tax is to penalize those who produce carbon emissions by making it more expensive for them to produce their products.

At the same time, carbon taxes are subtly meant to encourage the use of products or methods that produce either fewer or zero carbon emissions.

It’s a methodology to save the producer money.

The carbon tax is unlike other types of taxes. For example, a standard tax placed on a book purchased at a bookstore goes back to the government, where that tax money can be used as a payment for a government social program, government medical offerings, or to pay for the upkeep of roads, etc.

Carbon tax revenues, however, are being used to combat carbon emissions.

What happens to the money I pay into the carbon tax?

If we peruse the Internet, we get many answers to many questions, but presenting a cut-and-dry answer to this question takes some diving into things.

No matter what province you are in, if you pay a carbon tax, the money is used only in the province from which it was obtained.

Ontario payers of the carbon tax can rest assured that their money will only be used in their province.

This holds even though the carbon tax is a federal tax initiative.

The Government of Canada said that ”all the money from the federal price on pollution charged to fuel goes directly back to benefit Canadian families, businesses, farmers, and Indigenous groups—in the same province or territory where it was collected.”

Who gets money from a carbon tax?

Not everyone, that’s for sure. At the time of this writing—October 2023—the carbon tax money rebate can only be claimed by those provinces and territories that are subject to federal pollution pricing.

The carbon tax rebate—aka the Climate Action Incentive Payment (CAIP)—was a tax credit that could be claimed on your tax return. Still, a few years ago, it became a tax-free payment, paid quarterly, and enrollment is typically automatic.

The writer of this article received a CAIP cheque in the mail for $213.50 in mid-October.

Does every province have to pay a federal carbon tax?

Yes, that’s true. Instead of a federal carbon tax, depending on their locale, they must pay a provincial carbon tax equivalent.

Ontario, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Alberta were the first four to pay a federal carbon tax.

This past summer, starting July 1, 2023, residents of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador received their first carbon tax benefit rebate because they were now being hit with a fuel pollution surcharge.

British Columbia, New Brunswick, and Quebec each have their own provincial carbon taxing system in place. As for our three territories, well…

So, only some people pay a federal carbon tax, and only those who use fuel to produce a product seem to get charged a carbon tax. Only those in seven provinces are currently being carbon taxed, and the money taxed stays in the province from which it was taken.

We can assume that carbon taxes are charged in a manner whereby the more carbon emissions you produce, the more you get charged.

So, does every person and province get the same amount of CAIP rebate?


It gets a little bit complex regarding carbon rebates. Still, the chart below will allow you to calculate your quarterly CAIP rebate amount if you live in Alberta, Manitoba, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, or Saskatchewan.

If you live in a designated rural area, you get an additional 10 percent more. Except if you live in Prince Edward Island, because the Government of Canada has decided that the entire province is rural and has built that bonus into the dollars seen in the chart below.

  Alberta  Manitoba  Newfoundland & Labrador  Nova Scotia  Ontario  PEI Saskatchewan 
Individual/Base $193 $132 $164 $124 $122 $120 $170
Spouse/Common Law Partner $96.50 $66 $82 $62 $61 $60 $85
First child in a single-parent family $96.50 $66 $82 $62 $61 $60 $85
Each child under the age of 19 $48.25 $33 $41 $31 $30.50 $30 $42.50

So why am I getting a carbon rebate?

The Government of Canada cheque you receive will have, under the Canadian flag, written: Climate action incentive payment (CAIP).

While most people in Canada will not have had to contribute money via a carbon tax and didn’t know the cheque was coming, the government better not miss giving me a cheque!

That’s the level of indifference most people have towards the CAIP payout, coupled with a lack of knowledge about why they are receiving it.

We still haven’t examined just what a carbon tax is, however.

The carbon tax cost is a number our government (in this case) has derived from the social cost of carbon. This social cost is the amount of money that was calculated as the externality of carbon pollution.

Externalities—what's that?

Using the example of air pollution caused by an ICE (internal combustion engine) farm vehicle, externalities are the cost of air pollution to society that is not paid by either the producer or user of the vehicle—a moral cost in GHG emissions that hits the rest of society.

In this example, the fuel the ICE engine uses in a tractor causes GHG gases. The fuel on its own does not cause GHG emissions. The tractor on its own does not produce GHG emissions.

But, when used to plant, grow, protect, and harvest food in a field, the tractor uses fuel that causes GHG emissions that contribute to the combined global issue of “bad air.”

What bad air?

The air up here seems good, aside from those unlucky enough to be close to the plethora of forest fires afflicting Canada or those brave enough to fight the fires. Isn’t the air clean?

According to the Government of Canada, our total GHG emissions in 2020—the last year we have calculated data—were 672 megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e). Globally, Canada's share of GHG emissions is less than 1.5 percent.

1.5 percent doesn’t seem so bad, right?

True; however, Canada’s population is equivalent to 0.48 percent of the world’s population.

It means that we are producing more than our share, per global capita, of GHG emissions.

But how are GHG emissions calculated?

I don’t know. Political pundits suggest that no one knows, but in truth, someone or some department had an inkling and provided a calculated “guess” of how much GHG emissions Canada produces.

Unless every chimney or exhaust pipe has some GHG emission calculator on it, there is no way to get an exact count of the emissions. As such, what we have from the Government of Canada is what one calls a “best guess.”

However, the writer’s best guess is that it is based on specific calculations. In other words, the numbers weren’t simply made up, no matter how much you want to believe that because it’s the government.

But you said you would teach us!

Okay, per the Government of Canada, GHG emissions are reported in carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2 eq), which is determined by multiplying a particular gas's emissions by its global warming potential. The indicator uses the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's 1995 100-year global warming potentials.

I stand corrected. Maybe I’m not smart enough.

What are our GHG emissions?

The Government of Canada said that our total GHG emissions in 2021 were 670 megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (Mt CO2 eq), which was a 1.8 percent increase from 659 Mt CO2 eq in 2020.

But didn’t you say that it was 672 megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2020—also data from the Government of Canada?

Yes. One of those numbers must be correct, however.

So how does Canada stack up against the rest of the industrialized world?

We’re third! But not in a good way!

In a 2021 report, 1.5-Degree Lifestyles: Towards A Fair Consumption Space for All, produced by the Berlin, Germany-based Hot or Cool Institute, it showed that of the 10 chosen companies, Canada lagged far behind in cutting our carbon emissions.

The 10 countries analyzed were chosen for varying degrees of income levels: Canada, Finland, the United Kingdom, Japan, China, Turkey, South Africa, Brazil, India, and Indonesia.

And Canada was the worst. However, the German study did not include Australia (the worst carbon emitter) and the United States of America (number two).

Is Canada the only country that has a carbon tax?

No. Over 70 countries now have some form of carbon emissions taxation. Canada’s problem—globally speaking—is that it was late to the dance.

Countries such as Germany, Sweden, and the United Kingdom were early proponents of reducing their GHG emissions well before we were. We’re just playing catch-up.

Since 2019, every Canadian province has had a carbon tax fee through fuel charges and, for large industries, an output-based pricing system.

While all provinces (not territories) must have a carbon tax system in place, it can be their own provincial version, or they can use the federal example.

According to The Conference Board of Canada, when it comes to GHG emissions as of 2013—granted, this was 10 years ago—Canada’s per capita GHG emissions are very high, earning Canada a “D”—only the US and Australia fare worse.

Alberta and Saskatchewan score a "D-" with much higher per capita GHG emissions than the worst-ranked peer country, Australia.

New Brunswick was also higher (or worse) than the Canadian average, though it has its own provincial carbon tax levy.

Quebec received an “A” grade, placing seventh overall in the international report. Its provincial carbon tax seems to be working quite well.

Receiving a grade of “B” is British Columbia, a province that doesn't pay a federal carbon tax because it set up its own provincial carbon tax in 2008.

And, as of 2013—after five years of a provincial carbon tax—the province found that the ag industry there was not negatively impacted.

And while Ontario was also a paying “B” recipient, it doesn’t explain why the D-graded New Brunswick is not paying.

Statistics Canada said in a February 2023 report that Quebec and British Columbia have the lowest per capita household GHG emissions among the provinces, while Atlantic Canada has the highest.

At 2.7 metric tons (MT) per capita, Quebec and British Columbia produced the lowest per capita household GHG emissions in 2020 among the provinces.

Nunavut (0.9 metric tons), the Northwest Territories (2.9 MT), and Ontario (3.0 MT) were also below the national per capita level, while Manitoba (3.2 MT) matched it.

Per capita household GHG emissions were highest in Saskatchewan (5.1 MT), Newfoundland and Labrador (5.0 MT), Prince Edward Island (4.9 MT), Nova Scotia (4.4 MT), and Alberta (4.4 MT). New Brunswick (3.7 MT) and Yukon (3.5 MT) were also above the national average.

Among the provinces, Newfoundland and Labrador (+1.0 MT) had the largest per capita household GHG emissions increase from 2009 to 2020, while Prince Edward Island (-2.5 MT) had the largest decline.

What sectors are the biggest producers of GHG emissions per region?

Households are the largest emitters in Central Canada. Both Ontario (29.6 percent) and Quebec (28.4 percent) counted households as their greatest source of direct GHG emissions in 2020.

Pulp, paper, and paperboard mills account for one-fifth of emissions in British Columbia. Pulp, paper, and paperboard mills (20.5 percent) and households (18.7 percent) were the largest sources of GHG emissions in British Columbia in 2020.

Crop and animal production are essential contributors to GHG emissions in several provinces. In 2020, the crop and animal production industry accounted for the largest share of total GHG emissions in Manitoba (37.2 percent) and Saskatchewan (24.4 percent), and the second largest in Prince Edward Island (22.8 percent), after households (46.2 percent).

In Saskatchewan, in addition to the crop and animal production industry, the oil and gas extraction industry (22.9 percent) and the electric power generation, transmission, and distribution industry (21.0 percent) also had a larger share of total emissions. These three industries accounted for more than two-thirds (68.3 percent) of the total emissions in the province.

The electric power generation, transmission and distribution, and oil and gas extraction industries are among the top emitters in Atlantic Canada.

The electric power generation, transmission, and distribution industry was the most significant source of GHG emissions in Nova Scotia (42.6 percent) in 2020. In New Brunswick, the highest contributors were the electric power generation, transmission, and distribution industry (21.1 percent), pulp, paper, and paperboard mills (20.4 percent), and households (18.1 percent).

In 2020, in Newfoundland and Labrador, households (28.8 percent) were the primary GHG emitters, followed by the oil and gas extraction industry (18.7 percent).

The mining industry is the largest GHG emitter in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories. The metal-ore mining industry accounted for almost two-thirds of the GHG emissions in Nunavut (63.3 percent), and the non-metallic mineral mining and quarrying industry accounted for one-third (32.9 percent) of the GHG emissions in the Northwest Territories in 2020.

In the Yukon, an average of 26.9 percent of the households were responsible for over one-quarter of total GHG emissions. The next biggest offender were the support activities involved in mining and oil and gas extraction at 17.7 percent.

Unsurprisingly, oil and gas extraction was (and continues to be) Canada's top industrial energy user in 2020, representing 18.1 percent of Canada's total energy used.

The oil and gas extraction industry was also the highest GHG-emitting industry from 2009 to 2020, responsible for 22.4 percent of Canada's total GHG emissions in 2020.

According to, GHG emissions in Canada by sector in 2021 originated in the following sectors:

  • Oil & Gas: 28 percent;
  • Transportation: 22 percent;
  • Buildings: 13 percent;
  • Heavy Industry: 11 percent;
  • Agriculture: 10 percent;
  • Electricity: 7.7 percent;
  • Waste and others: 7 percent.

If you do the math, we come up to 98.7 percent, but obviously, Statistica didn’t include all of the other sectors with small percentages.

The agency defines heavy industry as including emissions from non-coal, non-oil, and non-gas mining activities, smelting and refining, and the production and processing of industrial goods such as fertilizer, paper, or cement.

For waste and others, “others” include emissions from coal production, light manufacturing, construction, and forest resources.

So, what’s the big deal?

Canadian farmers are paying carbon taxes—charged to any individual or business that uses carbon-based energy, such as natural gas, diesel, and gasoline. The tax or fee is charged for every tonne of greenhouse gas (GHG) that is emitted into the atmosphere.

But Canadian farmers complain—rightly so—that paying this carbon tax affects how they do business because competing countries in agriculture don’t have to pay a similar carbon tax.

For Canadian farmers, paying a carbon tax shrinks their profit margins and dilutes their global competitiveness.

Do carbon taxes work to reduce GHG emissions?

Sweden has been using a carbon tax since 1991—yes, for 32 years. Sweden’s Ministry of Environment has estimated that its carbon tax has caused a decrease in GHG emissions by 20 percent—and this does not include any regulation changes.

To avoid being penalized by carbon tax penalties, some farmers found alternative farming methods that reduced their GHG emissions.

While it may seem at the outset that the solution is simple for farmers who don’t want to pay a carbon tax—change the way you farm—it’s not that easy.

As noted, Canadian farmers are concerned about shrinking profit margins—and Canadian ag retailers should be, too.

Many of the inputs that ag retailers provide are things that contribute to a farm’s GHG emissions. As well, these inputs cost ag retailers carbon tax fees.

There are seeds, herbicides and pesticides, farm equipment and parts, and the shipping of such things to your shop—these things will cost the ag retailer carbon taxes, and because the costs need to be recaptured, it will mean higher costs to the farmers.

Further, farmers will seek higher prices for their yields (as they always do!) but may not be able to achieve them because global competitors will be able to provide the same products without the carbon tax burden.

And anything that utilizes commercial transportation to leave the farm—such as a truck, train, or ship—will be carbon taxed.

It’s not just transportation. It’s also expected that producers of electricity required for heat, irrigation, and seed cleaning will incur costs that will be passed on to the consumer (i.e., the farmer).

And fertilizer! There’s already a global availability shortage thanks to the Russian war against Ukraine, which also involves Russian ally Belarus, as all three were big suppliers of global fertilizers.

But Canada has a large fertilizer supply, except that it's expensive. Canada has large oil and gas supplies, yet consumer costs are high. Why? Taxes.

It’s the same for fertilizer. Albert produces urea and anhydrous ammonia fertilizers. However, in the production of both, natural gas is utilized.

Since natural gas is a fuel, it comes under the carbon tax fee. Therefore, the production of urea and anhydrous ammonia fertilizers is subject to a carbon tax.

Luckily for fertilizer providers, global politics (war), playing catch-up after a global pandemic (factory shutdowns), and a global supply chain disruption (ports closed and backed up), fertilizer has been in hot demand—if you can get it.

Loyal Canadian farmers would, of course, prefer to buy Canadian. But if they can’t because of the added carbon tax cost and have to buy exported fertilizer because that fertilizer had to be shipped, it increases a farmer’s carbon footprint.

Because farmers are slaves to the whims of agents and buyers setting the price for their yield, they

cannot pass on any additional input costs.

So, for Canadian farmers who already work against razor-thin margins, additional input costs and carbon taxes significantly affect the bottom line.

So, what’s a Canadian farmer to do?

As long as the carbon tax remains in place—and Sweden’s near 30-year use proves that the Canadian carbon tax isn’t going anywhere anytime soon—farmers will have to adjust how they farm.

No-till farming is a good soil-environmental practice. So too is creating windbreaks for houses and barns using tree lines—as a method to save money on heating.

More efficient fertilizer usage will keep the carbon from fertilizers in and around the plant roots and soil longer, resulting in more effective plant growth and less carbon escaping into the atmosphere.

Adaptive grazing is whereby farmers use the smallest amount of land for the shortest amount of time as a way to provide a longer rest period for the land, which allows the land to regrow, which pulls more carbon back into plant roots and soil.

Is there anything going on that can protect Canadian farmers?

Yes, there are rebates available to Canadian farmers if they purchase:

  • any equipment that helps the farm improve its energy efficiency;
  • add solar panels and connect them to the provincial electric grid;
  • new equipment that improves your water use efficiency and reduces your energy use.

It’s also worth noting that carbon taxes are not applied to dyed diesel or gasoline used in farming operations.

Is there anything else that can provide financial relief?

Yes. The latest event is Bill C-234, which, if passed, will remove the carbon tax fuel surcharge against propane and natural gas when no other alternative is available.

In a statement, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) said: “With no viable alternatives to propane and natural gas for grain drying and barn heating, and the high price for energy use, the charge collected on these fuels makes it even more difficult for farmers to manage business finances.”

If Bill C-234 is eventually passed, it will provide Canadian farmers with some tax relief that could be used to invest back into their businesses.

A recent Parliamentary Budget Officer report suggested that the carbon tax relief seen in just Bill C-234 could save Canadian farmers nearly $1 billion through 2030.

What about carbon tax credits?

This is cheating. But it’s legal and is known as cap-and-trade.

Should a company produce excessive carbon emissions, rather than pay its fair share of the carbon tax penalty, it can buy carbon credits from a third party for less.

The carbon credits allow the buyer to emit a fixed amount of CO2 (carbon dioxide) without fear of being hit by the carbon tax.

It is cheating, but it is hoped that those purchasing carbon credits will still do their part and change how they do their day-to-day business.

Suppose they don’t try to alleviate their carbon emissions by changing processes. In that case, the carbon credit purchase becomes akin to a permission slip to expel all the CO2 they want without paying the Canadian carbon tax.

It also means they don’t contribute to the Canadian citizens receiving the quarterly Climate Action Incentive Payment (CAIP).

Because change within an industrial sector is slow, we can state that industries such as the oil and gas sector remain the largest producers of GHG emissions. But because of the purchase of carbon credits, it pays the lowest carbon tax rate.

We can argue about the injustice all we like, but it’s a smart business ploy.

Do companies that provide carbon credits contribute to the Canadian carbon tax system?

The writer is still determining. If anyone has any information about this, please let us know.

Most of us know that California is very concerned about reducing its global carbon footprint.

However, even though they have carbon tax systems in place, California and the European Union give free credits to carbon-intensive sectors to protect them from foreign competitors who don’t pay a carbon price. It also prevents these industries from moving outside California (or the EU) to a less expensive territory abroad.

Should Canada not protect its ag industry?

Yes. But how to do that is a ticking time bomb that will have multiple answers, all correct and, at the same time, all wrong.

Right now, it is what it is.

And since Québec is among the global leaders in its lack of GHG emissions, maybe we should see what they are doing so well.

Every province is different, but there are some additional lessons to be learned for the rest of us to change the way we go about our day-to-day in the agriculture sector.

Canadian ag labour resolution may have a flaw

The interim report developed for the National Workforce Strategic Framework for Agriculture and Food & Beverage Manufacturing is a thing of beauty. But something integral to its success is missing.

By Andrew Joseph, Editor

Making do, is a mantra those in the ag industry know all too well.

It could be the weather—too hot, too cold, too wet, too dry—input costs of fuel, and fertilizer—or the timeworn complaint of simply not having enough people to work the land. It doesn’t matter what the situation is, you just have to continue making do.

Unfortunately for Canada (and the US), we are in the midst of a crisis, where there is a shortage of skilled workers in the agriculture sector—a shortage that will affect farm businesses and agri-retailers. And, the ag sector as a whole may not be able to make do for much longer.

In a 2020 survey, 40 percent of all Canadian primary ag employers noted they were unable to find the skilled ag personnel for open positions, including those in the retail segment.

According to the report, this inability to find the necessary labour caused the ag industry to suffer earning losses—i.e., possible earnings—of $2.9 billion in sales. As a comparison, the report noted the Canadian ag industry lost $1.5 billion in sales in 2014.

For decades, youth have left the harsh realities of farm life to more urban areas for education and/or employment opportunities. Working on the farm was seen as difficult, uneducated work, because often in the decades past, farm education was more important to the farmers than school education.

While ag-family youth continue their trek venturing off the farm to further their education, many are coming back to work in the industry.

To “replace” those who leave, we have used the migrant workers who have travelled to work in our fields for the past 60 years or so. Without their help harvesting crops, both Canadian farmers and agri-retail businesses would be less successful than what they are today.

But even with the influx of workers who have travelled to Canada as labourers, it’s not enough to stop the bleeding.

According to Statistics Canada, and a report prepared by Yan Zhang, Yuri Ostrovsky, and Amélie Arsenault, “Since the mid-1960s, agriculture has been one of the main recipients of foreign workers in Canada, and several programs are available to agriculture firms looking to fill their employment shortages by hiring foreign workers (Preibisch 2010; Meyer-Robinson and Burt 2016).”

More numbers from the StatsCan report show that approximately 613,200 foreign nationals in Canada held work permits in 2016 (Lu and Hou 2019), which was more than double the 294,000 foreign workers in 2005.

While there are still concerns that Canada does not have enough migrant workers, technological advances in the ag sector also mean that fewer such workers are required.

What this all means is that the Canadian agricultural sector is actively seeking skilled labour.

But there is a ray of hope.

The Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council (CAHRC) and its partners the Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) and Food and Beverage Canada (FBC-ABC) have developed a report on the development of an industry-led National Workforce Strategic Framework for Agriculture and Food & Beverage Manufacturing.

With funding from the Government of Canada’s Future Skills Centre, the National Workforce Strategic Framework is looking to formulate a comprehensive plan for Canada’s agriculture and food and beverage manufacturing sectors to achieve workforce stability by 2030.

While some pundits will scoff at how having to resolve “everything by 2030” is akin to some magical cabal-manufactured number, the desire to rectify the problem by starting now is certainly a better idea than waiting until our options for building on the existing workforce run out.

The Strategic Framework is looking to solidly identify the root causes of the industry’s labour shortages and skills gaps, identify concrete actions to address these shortfalls, and set meaningful goals and timelines to measure our progress and success.

The Strategic Framework seeks to complement the efforts of the Government of Canada, including the development of a National Agricultural Labour Strategy by the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-food.

The Strategic Framework recognizes Five Strategic Pillars for a strong and sustainable workforce:

    1. Perception and awareness of industry and careers;
    2. People and workplace culture;
    3. Immigration and foreign workers;
    4. Skill development;
    5. Automation and technology.

Each of these pillars will have a Work Group assigned, and those within each work group will attempt to create resolutions to the specific issues involved.

Although all five pillars are equally important, Pillar No. 1 may be at the crux of the issue.

Perception and awareness—where do we begin? Aside from those involved in the ag industry, and those who may know someone directly involved in agriculture, the average person—whether they live in urban or rural environs—is unaware of the myriad of career opportunities.

Ag has an image problem. At least that is something on which we can all agree.

Pillar #2 would, on the outside, appear to also be related to image concerns.

Pillar #3—Immigration and foreign workers is an intriguing point. The people who are willing to leave their own country for greater opportunities in another country aren’t looking for a lateral move. They are looking to make a better life for themselves and their family.

For example, why does someone migrate to a new country with a language barrier, strange customs, unfamiliar food, religious differences, and a high cost of living to become a farm labourer?

There are educational opportunities for their children—but the conundrum exists as a farm labourer would prefer if their children studied to be something other than a labourer.

Canada’s mosaic on the outside is welcoming to all regardless of colour, religion, sexuality, etc. But if we are honest with ourselves, it’s not Utopia. Truthfully, nothing is. We like to believe Canada is one of the best—if not the best—countries for people to come to and get ahead in life.

The point regarding immigration is that people who come to work as labourers in Canada will usually not provide a constant stream of familial sons and daughters to the sector—unless they become the owner/operator of an ag business. Otherwise, the ag lineage stops there.

As such, a constant stream of new immigrants will need to be convinced to come and work in the ag sector—and again, we’re not talking about migrant labourers at this time. And, if they are skilled labourers, so much the better.

With social media and the Internet et al, immigrants are better able to see and decide where they might want to go. Would it be prudent to offer incentives to those seeking employment in the Canadian ag industry? If we know who is coming, should we offer English/French language instruction before they arrive? Do we provide adequate housing and furnishings as part of a subsidized housing plan providing them with the option to purchase? Could we set up ag scholarship opportunities for their children to encourage them to continue in the sector? Should we do the same for our Canadian farm kids?

Incentives work.

But, before any of the workgroups tries to resolve any of the Five Strategic Pillars identified by the Strategic Framework, there is one single issue that will derail all efforts.

The Problem No One Talks About

Let’s not drag this out. The problem with all of these wonderful efforts to resolve the problem of Canadian ag labour shortages is that no one knows what the jobs are.

It’s difficult to create a positive outlook on anything if the people who need to be impressed upon—be it immigrants looking for a fresh start, or Canadian youth trying to determine what career path they should follow—do not know enough or know nothing at all about the industry particulars.

While a dairy farmer may be an expert in all things dairy, and a carrot farmer an expert in all things tapered and orange, do people outside of one ag segment know what makes another industry tick?

The answer is no. Furthermore, neither do those outside of the ag industry—those people you are trying to convince that ag jobs are worthwhile and rewarding career options.

You can tell people that Canadian ag is the best career in the world (pillar 1), ensure everyone knows about the high-tech advancements (pillar 2), encourage people from other countries to bring their skill set to the Canadian ag sector (pillar 3), reveal that there are growth opportunities (pillar 4), and encourage more businesses to provide the latest and greatest Canadian inventions to help propel Canada back to the leaderboard of ag tech (pillar 5).

But unless we create an ever-evolving list of the TYPES of jobs available in every ag sector, we will fail in this resolution regardless of our efforts.

Canada needs to create and promote an accessible list of all the jobs in the ag sector.

It’s not just all the jobs available, rather it is a list of all the jobs, period. It should also include the ag businesses that supply and sell inputs that farmers use—the agri-retailers, of course. It should even include those who create mechanical technologies be it the seeds that are planted or the tractors or hoses used by farmers.

Is there an opportunity for people to get jobs designing, manufacturing, repairing, or maintaining those machines? And what about those who analyze the data?

For accuracy, it would be best if a duck farmer explained the nuances of duck farming, the same way it would be prudent for a chicken farmer to do the same for chicken farming, etc.

Specialists in each field need to be involved, which also means input from all the specific associations, including CAAR.

We’re all in this together.

Once a list of jobs and the skills required has been compiled—only then can we begin to go to our agencies and partners to create ways of enticing people into the ag field.

That should be the first short-term goal.

Once we can provide a listing of all the job types seen in all aspects of agriculture then we can look at the other short-, medium-, and long-term goals outlined in the report.

One of the ways the report states that Canada will know it has been successful in this endeavour is if a “catalogue of existing resources is maintained.”

That’s great, but it doesn’t say that it is creating such a catalogue if there is already such a catalogue, or where it might be accessible to online visitors.

The National Workforce Strategic Framework for Agriculture and Food & Beverage Manufacturing is a wonderful way to look at eliminating labour shortages—they just aren’t beginning at the optimal starting point. </p

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