­Investment of $45 ­million to attract Quebec workers to work on farms

Record Staff

On Friday the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, André Lamontagne, and the Minister of Labour, Employment and Social Solidarity, Jean Boulet, announced $45 million in funding to meet labour needs in Quebec’s agricultural sector.
According to UPA President Marcel Groleau, the partnership between the Government of Quebec and the UPA comes at just the right time.
“The COVID-19 pandemic raises serious labour access issues for the agricultural sector, which is already experiencing a shortage of workers. Thanks to the Agricultural Employment Centres (known as Centres d’emploi Agricole, or CEA) in each region, we will be able to provide services to interested Quebec workers as well as to businesses that express a need,” commented Groleau in a recent press release. He added that Quebec is the first province in the country to implement such an initiative.
This investment will allow the UPA and AGRIcarrières, within the ­parameters determined by the government, to offer an incentive for the recruitment of agricultural workers, make financial assistance available for the training of new employees and support the CEAs.
The announcement by Ministers Lamontagne and Boulet was combined with the launch of a new campaign, Travailler à la ferme : J’y vais sur-le-champ!(Work on the Farm: I’m heading to the field!) to encourage Quebecers to lend a hand to the agricultural sector during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“To meet the serious needs of the agricultural sector, people with a big heart and a desire to support Quebec farmers will be welcome on the farms!” added Geneviève Lemonde, Executive Director of AGRIcarrières.
Those interested in giving a helping hand on a farm near their home are invited to contact their local CEA by visiting https://www.emploiagricole.com/. Currently, the CEA teams are already making every effort to match potential workers with farm employers.
In addition, free online training is available to workers to help them prepare for their arrival on farms. At the end of this training provided by AGRIcarrières, they will be able to apply safe and effective work techniques to work in agriculture, more specifically in the market gardening sector.
The program targets only the food agriculture sector. Therefore, care will have to be taken if there is a displacement of labour from the non-food agricultural sectors. The UPA believes the program will help ensure the presence of workers on local farms throughout the season, even after the confinement period.
“The announcement of this partnership is great news. It responds to an essential need both for Quebec farmers, who have significant labour needs, and for our fellow citizens. It is a food security issue in the current context,” Marcel Groleau concluded.

Published in the Monday, April 20 edition of The Record.

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