Agricultural workers in Ontario may soon have more access to worker supports through a new initiative, a Feb. 24 news release says.
The federal and provincial governments are investing up to $4 million through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership to develop the new Ontario Agri-Careers Support Initiative. The release says the initiative will support pilot projects that help the sector attract, support and retain workers by developing solutions that enable businesses to better meet the needs of employees.
“There is not a one-size-fits-all solution to address the labour challenges in our agri-food sector,” Lisa Thompson, Ontario minister of agriculture, food and rural affairs, says in the release. “We are supporting projects that will make it easier for workers to start and continue their careers in the agri-food sector.”
Pilot projects for the initiative will be eligible for up to 70 per cent of approved expenses to a maximum of $80,000 for individual businesses or up to $200,000 for a collaboration between two or more businesses, the release says. The new Ontario Agri-Careers Support will provide funding support for pilot projects undertaken by food processing businesses with more than 100 employees.
Examples of pilot projects which could be eligible for funding include:
- transportation initiatives for employees to commute to the job site
- childcare options while parents are at work
- language proficiency solutions for workers with English as a second language
- Improving workspace environments to help retain employees.
The release notes data collected from these pilots will be compiled into a report by the Agricultural Adaptation Council, and shared with Ontario agri-food processors to help identify successful programs that may be utilized in their individual operations with the aim to address long-term labour challenges.