Mushroom farms face worker shortage

A new offshore worker policy decision is of concern as well

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Mushrooms Canada (MC) growers job vacancy rate has almost doubled in the last two years in spite of vigorous job outreach and ongoing advertisements. “Close to 20% job vacancy rate on our mushroom farms won’t be surprising to farms having labour shortages,” says Lorenzo Piccioni, Canadian Mushroom Growers Association President. “In spite of our farms offering competitive wages and benefits, finding mushroom harvesters is becoming increasingly difficult.”

In 2017, a Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council (CAHRC) survey found Canadian mushroom farms to have 9.7% job vacancy rate and in CAHRC’s new research released today, mushrooms farm job vacancy rate has climbed to 19.3%. Mushroom farms encountering vacancies reported throwing out 23% of their crops and $43 million loss in 2018. (See Mushroom 2019 Infographic Attached) “Our growers believe in fair labour and ethical recruitment practices and continue to push for an industry trusted employment program,” says Ryan Koeslag, Executive Vice President, Mushrooms Canada. “We also call on the Government to release the details of the Agri-Food Immigration Pilot, announced in Budget 2019, so our trained mushroom farm harvesters, who are interested in immigrating, employed in year-round jobs, can have a chance to continue to work and live in our rural communities.”

Koeslag also expressed concern about the recent occupation-sector work permit announced by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) in a regulatory notice of intent Friday, June 21.

“Mushroom growers support hiring Canadians first at our farms that employ 70% Canadians. Before the Federal Government changes the mandate of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP), where workers do not stay where job vacancies are assessed, we feel that a labour market impact assessment is necessary to ensure these changes do not suppress Canadian workers’ wages,” says Koeslag.

“Considering the labour gap and job vacancies on Canadian farms, this new work permit seems the wrong direction,” says Koeslag. “We really need to see the results of a full economic impact assessment completed before ESDC moves to make these changes. We are concerned what this will mean to our mushroom farms. We need international workers to fill job vacancies when Canadians don’t apply. We cannot jump into this without study. Our food system is too important.”