Agriculture and Agri-Food constitute one of the five occupational sectors that IRCC has selected for special emphasis in 2023 through the Express Entry category-based draws.
To address significant labor shortages in key sectors across the country, IRCC introduced category-based selection draws for the Express Entry program earlier this year. These draws aim to attract immigration candidates with work experience in these specific sectors to come to Canada. This initiative aligns with the government’s recognition of the demand for workers in these fields to support Canada’s ongoing growth and prosperity.
The 2023 Express Entry categories encompass healthcare, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), transportation, skilled trades, as well as agriculture and agri-food. Consequently, these draws differ from standard Express Entry draws. They give priority to candidates with relevant employment backgrounds rather than solely relying on Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) scores.
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How many agricultural and agri-food workers does Canada truly require?
On April 29, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) published a report on the labor situation in the agriculture industry. According to this report, quoting the president of Nova Scotia’s Federation of Agriculture, the province could potentially face a shortage of more than 2,500 farm workers by 2029.
This coincides with data from the Government of Canada Job Bank, which reveals a significant decline in employment within the industry over the past decade. Specifically, Job Bank data indicates that employment in this sector in Alberta has decreased by 28,300 jobs (a 44% decline) from 2013 to 2022. Similarly, in British Columbia, industry employment has seen a decline of about 10% over the last ten years.
Given the varying needs for workers in this sector across different provinces, this data underscores substantial labor shortages throughout Canada’s agriculture and agri-food industries.
Just two weeks before the aforementioned report, CBC also referenced a study suggesting that nearly 40% of Canadian farmers are expected to retire within the next decade. Additionally, 66% of farmers do not have a succession plan in place. The same report predicts a potential reduction of 24,000 farm, nursery, and greenhouse workers in the agriculture industry.
Taking all these factors into account, the earlier report concludes that Canada may need to welcome around 30,000 newcomers. With a focus on farming to address the labor gap in this industry.
In summary, recent reports and data strongly indicate that Canada will require several tens of thousands of agricultural and agri-food workers. For effectively addressing ongoing labor shortages in this vital sector.
Why Agriculture/Agri-Food Was Selected as a Targeted Express Entry Category
The CAHRC forecasts that by 2029, “[this] sector will have 123,000 more job openings than the domestic labor force can fulfill.”
This projection provides a compelling rationale for Canada’s decision to prioritize this sector as an exclusive Express Entry category, given that agriculture and agri-food play a pivotal role in Canada’s sustainability and progress.
Furthermore, according to the CAHRC, “the agriculture and agri-food sectors contribute over $122 billion annually, equivalent to 6.3% of Canada’s GDP. As global demand for Canadian food and agriculture products continues to rise, this economic contribution is expected to expand.”
This underscores the significance of the agriculture and agri-food industries to Canada as a nation, further validating the choice by IRCC to establish dedicated category-based Express Entry draws for this sector in 2023.
What Prospective Immigrants to Canada Can Gain from This Opportunity
Data from the CAHRC underscores that Canada’s agriculture sector has increasingly relied on foreign workers due to a shortage of domestic talent capable of filling labor gaps in this field.
In fact, as of 2017, Canadian migrants played a crucial role in addressing over 75% of the labor shortfall within Canada’s agriculture and agri-food industries. Furthermore, more than one in six individuals in Canada’s agricultural workforce (17%) were foreign workers.
In 2017, Canada still had more than 16,000 unfilled positions. Recognizing the subsequent growth in the labor gap in this industry, prospective immigrants interested in agriculture and agri-food work may find substantial employment opportunities within this specialized occupational category in Canada.