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Canadian meat processors call for temporary foreign workers to fill needed positions

June 11, 2014
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Canada’s meat industry expressed its concerns that upcoming changes to the country’s temporary foreign worker program will not help the industry fill hundreds of vacant jobs. Controversy over the temporary foreign worker program has made it increasingly difficult for processing plants to hire enough staff to remain competitive, reports CTV News.

Ron Davidson, a spokesman for the Canadian Meat Council, said that problems with the program last year led to the government tightening the rules for the program. Siince then, it has been more difficult for meat plants to get applications to hire foreign workers.

"We do feel that we are going to have a severe critical labor shortage. It is happening already," Davidson said. "It has been getting worse for the last year and we fear that the new changes will be blanket changes to the program, and that it will be very difficult for our meat plants to remain sustainable."

"The government introduced new requirements that have made it increasingly progressively difficult to get approvals. We are not now getting the numbers of workers that we require to supplement the Canadian workforce,” he added.

The shortage of workers has affected Canada’s two main beef plants in southern Alberta. Both the Cargill Canada plant in High River and the JBS Canada plant in Brooks are short hundreds of workers. The Association said it has also been difficult to find native Canadians to fill the positions.

Cargill said its High River plant is exceptionally strained when it comes to labour and must hire foreign workers to round out its production teams.

"Without this program and access to labour, we would not be able to keep our facility in High River operating competitively," Brigitte Burgoyne, a Cargill spokeswoman, wrote in an email.

"Without a full labor force we cannot maximize value of cattle being processed or the efficiency of our plant operations."

Source: CTV News

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