Agricultural operations and human resources
The Canadian Agricultural Human Resources Council (CAHRC) has put together a resource website to support agricultural operations in implementing best practices to limit the impact and spread of COVID-19 within agricultural operations. Please click here for more information.
CAHRC, the National Cattle Feeders' Association and CCA also worked in collaboration to host a webinar for managers and farm business owners about managing workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. To access the webinar, click here.
For information and tips for Canadian beef operations on COVID-19, click here.
For recommendations on hosting and attending cattle sales during COVID-19, click here.
For information and tips for branding / processing time for Canadian beef operations during COVID-19, click here.
For information and tips for delivering and receiving cattle during COVID-19, click here.
For guidance and best practices for maintaining worker health and safety on farms and ranches, while continuing safe and secure business operations during COVID-19, click here.
A movement exemption form template has been developed as tool for owners, operators and employees of agriculture enterprises. *Please note that is not a requirement, but a resource should you need it. To access the template, click here.
For guidance on conducting on-farm research during COVID-19, please click here.
Youth Employment and Skills Program
On May 26, 2020, the Government of Canada (GoC) announced an investment of up to $9.2 million to enhance the Youth Employment and Skills Program (YESP) and fund up to 700 new positions for youth in the agriculture industry.
The YESP will provide agriculture employers, including beef cattle producers, up to 50 per cent of the cost of hiring a Canadian youth up to $14,000. Indigenous applicants and those applicants hiring a youth facing barriers are eligible for funding of up to 80 per cent of their costs. Additionally, the program offers 100 per cent of costs for relocation to a maximum of $5,000 if the employee must relocate for the position.
Eligible youth for this program must be between the ages of 15 and 30 and a Canadian citizen or permanent resident. Eligible employers include agricultural related organizations such as primary producers, food processors and agricultural related non-governmental organizations (NGOs) who can offer opportunities that will give youth agriculture career-related work experiences and skills in Canada.
Employers may apply for this funding retroactive to April 1, 2020, with projects to be completed by March 31, 2021.
The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association applauds Minister Bibeau and the GoC on this important program that will support the labour needs of Canadian agriculture producers and provide an excellent opportunity for youth to establish a career in food production.
Cattle producers interested in applying or learning more about the program can find details on criteria and how to apply by clicking here: Youth Employment and Skills Program
Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy Update
On April 1, 2020, Federal Finance Minister, Bill Morneau, provided an update on the proposed Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy. The program would offer a 75 per cent wage subsidy to businesses who have suffered at least a 30 per cent drop in gross revenue due to the impacts of COVID-19.
While the details of how these funds will be administered are still being worked out, Finance Canada has outlined the following details:
- The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy would apply at a rate of 75 per cent of the first $58,700 normally earned by employees, representing a benefit of up to $847 per week.
- The program would be in place for a 12-week period, from March 15 to June 6, 2020.
- Eligible employers who suffer a drop in gross revenues of at least 30 per cent in March, April or May, when compared to the same month in 2019, would be able to access the subsidy.
- An eligible employer’s entitlement to this wage subsidy will be based entirely on the salary or wages actually paid to employees. All employers would be expected to at least make best efforts to top up salaries to 100% of the maximum wages covered.
- Eligible employers would include employers of all sizes and across all sectors of the economy, except public sector entities.
- Eligible employers would access the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy by applying through a Canada Revenue Agency online portal. More application details are expected to follow
Organizations that do not qualify for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy may continue to qualify for the previously announced wage subsidy of 10 per cent of remuneration paid from March 18 to before June 20, up to a maximum subsidy of $1,375 per employee and $25,000 per employer.
The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association is evaluating the proposal and will be providing further feedback to Finance Canada and industry in the days ahead.
For more information, please view the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy technical backgrounder by clicking here.
MNP has also provided a breakdown of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy through an update available on their website. For more information, click here.
Temporary Foreign Workers
Access to labour, including qualified foreign workers, remains one of the most important issues impacting beef production in Canada, in terms of both sustaining current production levels and ensuring the continued availability of beef products to Canadian consumers. The beef industry has approximately 41,000 workers but has a shortage of 3,500 workers. This does not include impacts of the current COVID-19 virus.
On March 20, 2020, the Government of Canada provided an update on travel restrictions put in place to stem the spread of COVID-19. To safeguard the continuity of trade, commerce, health and food security for all Canadians, temporary foreign workers (TFW) in agriculture, agri-food, seafood processing and other key industries will be allowed to travel to Canada under exemptions to the air travel restrictions that took effect on March 18, 2020. In addition to health screening protocols before travel, all individuals entering from abroad must isolate for 14 days upon their arrival in Canada.
A temporary modification is being made to the Labour Market Impact Assessment process for agriculture and food processing employers, as the required two-week recruitment period will be waived for the next six months.
The Government of Canada is also increasing the maximum allowable employment duration for workers in the low-wage stream of the TFW Program from one to two years. This will improve flexibility and reduce the administrative burden for meat processors.
The Canadian beef sector welcomes the Federal Government’s recognition of the importance and value of TFW who are essential to many sectors within Canada’s agri-food supply chain. In the days and weeks ahead, we ask that the Government of Canada continue to allow TFWs to come to Canada and follow proper procedures to ensure the health and safety of themselves, the operations where they will work, and the communities where they will live. We understand that final procedures and protocols are still being developed and CCA will continue to provide updates on this file as more details become available.
It is still important to note that hiring Canadians to fill jobs on-farm and in beef processing is always the first choice for employers in the sector and there continues to be jobs available for Canadians who wish to work on farms and at food processing plants.
For more information from the Government of Canada, click here.
Federal Funding to assist TFW employers
On April 13, 2020, the Government of Canada (GoC) announced it’s providing $50 million to help Canadian farmers, food and seafood processors comply with the mandatory 14-day isolation period required for workers arriving from abroad. Employers will have access to $1,500 per temporary foreign worker (TFW) to support costs associated with the quarantine period, such as paying workers for the two weeks they cannot work, transportation, accommodations and access to food and basic supplies.
This funding is conditional to employers following the mandatory isolation period for workers and not being found in violation of any other public health orders. The GoC indicated the program will be available as long as the Quarantine Act is in force, and those who do not comply with the Act or isolation protocol will face severe fines and sanctions. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) says the Government will work with interested provinces and territories to ensure this funding is delivered in a manner that meets their needs, as labour circumstances differ across regions in Canada.
According to AAFC, there’s been over 2,000 temporary foreign workers enter Canada since March. More TFWs destined to fill jobs in the agri-food sector are expected to arrive in the coming weeks.
To read the full funding announcement from AAFC, click here.
The National Cattle Feeders’ Association and the Alberta Cattle Feeders’ Association have also prepared a Q&A document with additional information on TFW requirements in regards to COVID-19. To view the resource, click here.