Chronic labour shortages in agriculture are putting Canada's food security at risk

Toronto, November 8, 2022 – Labour shortages have been negatively impacting Canadian agri-businesses, with nearly three-quarters (74%) of agri-business owners working more hours to make up for the lack of staff, according to a new report by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. Nearly half (48%) of agri-businesses have had to turn down sales or contracts due to labour shortages, while 41% have had to decrease service offerings.

To ensure the future of the industry, CFIB is urging policymakers to address chronic labour shortages in agriculture by focusing on the underlying issues exacerbating the problem.

“We need policies that will support our farmers and agri-businesses to ensure the agriculture sector is competitive and productive and the current shortages of labour are prioritized. In a recent survey we found that almost two-thirds (61%) of agri-business owners turned to their existing employees to work more hours due to lack of staff,” said Jasmin Guénette, Vice-President of National Affairs at CFIB. “The prevailing labour shortages in agriculture must be addressed. It limits productivity and growth and is putting Canada’s food supply at risk.”

In addition to labour shortages, Canadian agri-businesses have also been facing many other challenges. A vast majority (94%) of agri-businesses said the rising prices of inputs have impacted their business. Supply chain challenges are also causing difficulties for 83% of agri-businesses.

CFIB’s Business Barometer® also shows that those in the agriculture sector have been the least optimistic about the future of their business for six consecutive months.

“Four in five agri-businesses say they would not advise someone to start a business because of labour shortages. This is concerning given the retiring population and lack of youth turning to agriculture for a career. We need to ensure agriculture is a viable career path for the next generation of farmers and agri-business professionals,” said Taylor Brown, Senior Policy Analyst at CFIB.

As Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) works on addressing chronic labour shortages in agriculture, CFIB urges policymakers to help agri-businesses by:

  • Reducing the total tax burden on agri-businesses, including payroll taxes and the federal carbon tax
  • Streamlining and simplifying the Temporary Foreign Worker and immigration processes and programs to get more workers into Canada faster
  • Providing tax relief for the hiring of older workers and other underrepresented groups
  • Stimulating automation in agri-businesses through programs or tax credits

Read CFIB’s Help Wanted: Labour Shortages Threaten the Future of Canadian Agriculture report.

For media enquiries or interviews, please contact:
Dariya Baiguzhiyeva, CFIB

About CFIB
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is Canada’s largest association of small and medium-sized businesses with 95,000 members across every industry and region. CFIB is dedicated to increasing business owners’ chances of success by driving policy change at all levels of government, providing expert advice and tools, and negotiating exclusive savings. Learn more at