Her duties include developing an ag labour strategy and protecting supply-managed sectors
By Diego Flammini
Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau and her colleagues in Prime Minister Trudeau’s cabinet received their mandate letters last week.
These letters, which ministers received on Dec. 16, “outline the objectives that each minister will work to accomplish, as well as the pressing challenges they will address in their role.”
Minister Bibeau is ready to get to work.
"I am proud of the work out farmers & food businessess are doing to build an increasingly sustainable agriculture sector," she tweeted after receiving her letter. "I will continue to support them so that the (Canadian farming sector) remains a world leader as is requested of me..."
The prime minister has identified one item as an immediate priority.
Minister Bibeau, along with the minister of employment, workforce development and disability inclusion, Carla Qualtrough, will work to “develop a sector-specific strategy to address persistent and chronic labour shortages in farming and food processing.”
The two ministers are also tasked to work together to “implement sector-based work permits and strengthen the inspection regime to ensure the health and safety of temporary foreign workers.”
Canada’s ag sector will be challenged to find workers in the future.
In the next few years, almost 30 per cent of industry jobs in Canada will need to be filled, a report from the Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council says.
“Looking ahead to 2025, the sector faces a situation in which domestic workers will not be available to fill 27 per cent of its jobs,” the report says. “In other words, more than one in four agricultural jobs could be at risk of going unfilled.”
Another one of Minister Bibeau’s responsibilities is to work with the minister of trade, export promotion, small business and economic development, Mary Ng, to protect supply-managed sectors and to provide compensation for dairy producers as a result of the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement.
Further objectives for Minister Bibeau include:
- Establishing a Canada Water Agency with the minister of environment and climate change.
- Modernizing the Canada Grain Act.
- Preventing African swine fever from entering Canada.
- Working with the minister of immigration, refugees and citizenship to expand pathways to permanent residence for temporary foreign workers.