An Ontario MP is calling on Ottawa to take action after April’s job losses
By Diego Flammini
An Ontario member of Parliament (MP) is asking the federal government to match Canadian students with positions in the ag sector after the country lost millions of jobs in April.
Full-time employment for people between the ages of 15 and 24 dropped by over 20 per cent last month, Statistics Canada reported.
Ottawa should be taking steps to connect people in that age range with farmers who are looking for labour, said Eric Melillo, the Conservative MP for Kenora.
“Many agricultural producers are facing labour shortages right now because of their inability to hire temporary foreign workers, and we believe students who are struggling to find work could potentially fill those gaps,” he said in the House of Commons on April 29. “This would be a great opportunity for students to gain work experience and earn some income while stabilizing our food supply and contributing to Canada’s COVID-19 response.”
Representatives of the ag industry agree that students can be a viable source of labour for farmers during this time.
“We must work together to ensure that our agriculture industry thrives, and our workforce is strong,” said Kathryn Doan, director of global business development and technology with AgCareers.com. “The student pool is a community that should be encouraged to consider career paths in agriculture and food.”
AgCareers.com has several temporary positions listed on its job boards.
These opportunities can provide multiple benefits to students who pursue them.
“These temporary jobs, like equipment operator, driver and facility assistant, will enable students to not only earn badly needed funds but gain valuable experience that will serve them well as they advance in their careers,” Doan said. “During this uncertain time we find ourselves in, we need our agriculture industry and student labour pool to continue to thrive so we can come out on the other side of this pandemic stronger than before.”