The agri-food industry in Canada has experienced chronic labour shortages over the past decade. In 2017, the labour gap in farm agriculture was 63,000, and it is expected to reach 123,000 by 2027, while Food and Beverage Manufacturing is expected to have a shortage of 65,000 workers by 2025. A rapidly aging population and the fact that 90% of the Canadian population live in urban areas have contributed to the challenges that the industry has faced over the years, making it the sector with the highest job vacancy rate in Canada. In Windsor-Essex, the Leamington Census Area (CA), which includes Leamington and Kingsville, is widely known for its large concentration of greenhouse operations. The area has been rapidly growing in recent years and contains over 60% of Ontario’s greenhouses, the largest concentration of greenhouses in both Canada and the U.S., but they continue to struggle due to persistent labour gaps. The purpose of this report is to explore the value of filling these gaps with a large and underutilized group within the workforce: newcomers. Newcomers, immigrants that have relocated in the past five years, migrate to Canada with experience, a willingness to learn, and an eagerness to work. However, newcomers face many barriers when it comes to entering the agri-food industry, and employers sometimes lack the necessary supports to facilitate their entry. This report explores the state of the agri-food industry, identifies barriers for newcomers and employers within the sector, and recommends the best practices and policy changes that employers, newcomers, and government agencies can adopt going forward.

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About the Author

Mikal (Kal) Fakhreddin, Research Associate

Mikal (Kal) Fakhreddin is a Local Board Research Associate. She has a BA[H] in International Relations and Development Studies with minors in French and Sociology from the University of Windsor, where she is currently completing her Masters in Political Science. Kal’s studies have sparked an ardent interest in diversity and migration in the region, and she is excited to learn from and contribute to the research team at Workforce WindsorEssex.