Canada’s food manufacturers applaud adoption of industry’s emergency labour proposal

The coalition of leading Canadian food and beverage manufacturing associations and their members applaud the federal government for taking concrete action to address the debilitating labour crisis impacting Canada’s food supply.

Changes to the Temporary Foreign Workers (TFW) Program announced by federal Minister Qualtrough today will provide some necessary short-term relief for Canadian companies, as the industry continues its work with governments on longer-term measures to address chronic labour shortages. In particular, the temporary increase in the TFW Cap to 30% for food manufacturers will help stabilize the food supply chain.

Canadian food and beverage manufacturing, an industry of nearly 300,000 workers, has been facing an escalating labour crisis, with companies reporting vacancy rates of 20% and more.  Vacancy rates of this magnitude pose a serious risk to Canada’s food supply as manufacturers are forced to limit production and/or stop producing some products altogether.  

In December, eleven industry associations came together to develop a proposal for an Emergency Foreign Worker Program, which recommended measures to provide immediate relief in the short term. The coalition worked closely with policymakers and government officials to develop proposals for effective solutions to the immediate labour crisis. 

Today’s announcement, and Minister Qualtrough’s keen, thorough review of the issues facing this sector, are important and positive steps forward towards securing Canada’s food supply. While these changes extend beyond food and beverage manufacturing, Minister Qualtrough has made clear that her decisions were inspired by the coalition’s proposal and constructive approach to addressing labour issues. The coalition also thanks Minister Bibeau for her significant support for the sector and its proposal.

Canada’s food and beverage manufacturing sector looks forward to working with Minister Qualtrough to review additional improvements to the TFW program, including streamlining the application process and resolving delays in processing times. Industry remains committed to the collaborative problem solving that led to today’s announcement of both temporary and permanent measures to support industry.


“Our sector went from 1,700 to 10,000 empty butcher stations in the past few years. The temporary foreign worker cap was a cap on our processing capacity and our sector’s growth potential. Today’s announcement allows our meat processors to hire temporary foreign workers, but there’s nothing temporary about our jobs; they are full-time and permanent. The measures introduced today will help alleviate our worker shortage and help us produce more high-quality and nutritious Canadian meat to feed Canadians and the world.”
     – Marie-France MacKinnon, Senior Vice President Public Affairs – Canadian Meat Council

Coalition Members

  • Food and Beverage Canada
  • Canadian Meat Council
  • Canadian Poultry and Egg Processors Council
  • Le Conseil de la transformation alimentaire du Québec (CTAQ)
  • Food and Beverage Ontario
  • Canadian Produce Marketing Association
  • Fisheries Council of Canada
  • BC Food & Beverage
  • Baking Association of Canada
  • Food & Beverage Manitoba
  • Food & Beverage Atlantic