Critical shortage of workers in Canadian meat industry

By Georgi Gyton

- Last updated on GMT

Access has been restricted for new immigrants who possess high-demand special skills
Access has been restricted for new immigrants who possess high-demand special skills

Related tags Meat Livestock

A rapidly deteriorating nationwide shortage of butchers, meat cutters and labourers is threatening the Canadian meat industry, according to the Canadian Meat Council (CMC).

The shortage of labour is affecting livestock producers, meat packers, processors, consumers, exporters and rural communities, it said.

The country’s meat industry provides 64,570 jobs across Canada and is the largest component of its food processing sector, recording revenue of CA$23.6m and exports of CA$4.5m.

However, there has been a trend for meat packers and processing businesses to move away from their traditional locations close to major urban centres, to less densely populated rural locations, according to the CMC – which could be affecting the pool of labour available to them.

In recent years the industry has seen a noticeable decline in the number of Canadians willing to work in the industry. The CMC claimed there was also a decision by the federal government to select "higher-skilled"​ immigrants.

"This policy decision has severely restricted access not only to candidates for starting positions as labourers, but also to new immigrants who possess high-demand special skills, such as those of butchers and meat-cutters,"​ it said.

These restrictions will increasingly and cumulatively affect the industry, claimed the CMC. This results in companies being unable to back-fill positions that become vacant as work permits for temporary foreign workers expire, or the inability to envisage additional shifts, new value-added products, or enhanced export opportunities.

According to the CMC, Canadian meat packers and processors are already "reducing or curtailing the production of value-added items; diverting speciality meats to lower value rendering, rather than harvesting them for export; forfeiting existing and new export opportunities; decreasing profitability, competitiveness and business sustainability; and, increasing the number of Canadian jobs that are being placed at risk".

Livestock is also being shipped out of the country to be processed in the US, rather than being done in Canada, further jeopardising jobs, it said.

Related topics Meat

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