Agri-Food Immigration Pilot announced in federal budget

Source: Canadian Meat Council

Long-Awaited Labour Pilot will Address Huge Employment Shortage in Meat Processing

The Canadian Meat Council (CMC) applauds the Government of Canada for announcing today a three-year Agri-Food Immigration Pilot to bring in full-time, non-seasonal agriculture workers that will include a pathway to permanent residency. CMC has been advocating for many years the need for government to create a program that would help the sector to deal with critical and chronic shortage of butchers and issues with the current Temporary Foreign Workers (TFW) Program.

“This pilot is vital to our sector. Our members provide year-round, permanent jobs. There’s nothing temporary about meat processing’s workforce requirements” says Chris White, President of CMC.  “We currently have over 1,700 vacancies to fill with 900 butchers looking for permanent residency – this immigration Pilot will provide a pathway to residency for butchers in all provinces which isn’t available to us right now.”

Last fall, Industry Canada’s Agri-Food Economic Strategy Table report highlighted the need to address the immediate labour shortages facing the sector and to modernize Canada’s immigration and temporary foreign worker programs to access the global labour force across all skill levels.  Canada’ Agriculture and Agri-food system contributes $111 billion to the economy annually and $304 million per day employing 2.3 million Canadians and there is tremendous potential for growth.

“The red meat sector creates over 288,000 jobs for Canadians and our members hire Canadians first. Allowing butchers of all skill levels, including entry-level positions, access to immigration to fill proven job vacancies means creating more middle-class jobs – which is what this budget was all about” adds White. “Research shows when we fill one job vacancy it creates 4 other jobs for Canadians in the supply chain.”

While the details of the pilot haven’t been announced, CMC has been asking for 2,750 immigration spots for three-years. Canadian meat processing needs more butchers to remain competitive and to allow us to process food for Canadian consumers.

“Canadian meat processors need to be competitive in a global market where Canada’s brand is in high demand,” says White.  “Canada is signing trade agreements, and in order to meet our new export opportunities we need more butchers.  These butcher jobs go to Canadians first.  If Canadians do not apply, we still need butchers to cut meat for Canadian consumers and our customers abroad.


Budget 2019: Page 163:  “To help the agri-food sector meet Canada’s ambitious export targets and attract and retain needed labour, the federal government will launch a three year immigration pilot to bring in full time, non-seasonal agricultural workers that will include a pathway to permanent residency.”  English  |  French



  • Meat Processing is Canada’s largest food and beverage manufacturing employer with 64,500 workers in rural and urban areas across Canada in 2015.
  • Red Meat Consumption and exports supported 288,000 jobs in Canada in 2016, generating $6 billion in annual revenues.
  • Over the last 14 years, meat processing wages have increased by over 50% with research showing that entry level and experienced butcher positions having increased the most.
  • Nearly 1,700 empty butcher stations at meat processing plants across Canada.
  • Research findings also indicate that beef meat processing capacity in Canada is less today than it was 20 years ago, pork capacity is stagnant and lamb is not enough to keep up with domestic demand.
  • Labour shortage is having critical impacts of lost sales for meat processors of $750 million annually, plus $396 million lost sales for its value chain producers, also due to labour shortage, bringing the total economic impacts to the red meat sector to approximately $1.15 billion.
  • Over 90% of TFWs who are allowed to stay remain working in the rural meat packing plants.

About Canadian Meat Council:

For nearly a century, the CMC has represented Canada’s federally registered meat packers, meat processors and equipment suppliers. CMC provides evidence-based advocacy on behalf of its members and works to secure and improve Canada’s global meat competitiveness and, promote a balanced diet, which includes high-quality and nutritious Canadian meat. The Canadian red meat industry represents over 20 Billion dollars to the Canadian economy and supports 288,000 jobs across Canada.

Contributing $304 million per day to Canada’s economy ($111 billion annually) and employing approximately 2.3 million Canadians the Agri-Food sector accounts for close to 7% of Canada’s GDP.

For more information, please contact:

Marie-France MacKinnon, Vice-President, Public Affairs & Communications
Canadian Meat Council
(613) 725-5805 |


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