Thursday, September 16, 2021

Meat council wants more foreign workers

The Canadian Meat Council is complaining about a limit on the number of temporary foreign workers (TFW) meat packers can employ.

"Our meat processors are having a hard time finding Canadians who are interested in these jobs," said Marie-France Mackinnon, vice-president of public affairs and communications with the Canadian Meat Council.

Even students who take training to become meat cutters and butchers at Olds College in Alberta don't want to work at meat processing plants.

"After their certificate (they) don't choose to work for any of our members," Mackinnon said. "They want to… go to Co-Op or Safeway, or open their own butcher shop."

The limit on the number of TFW is forcing meat companies to make difficult choices. Some are shutting down production lines and others are shipping cuts of meat to other plants, perhaps in the United States for further processing.

The cap on TFW is detrimental to Canada's meat industry and the country's economy, the meat council said in a document outlining its priorities for the federal election.

"The cap restricts growth for abattoirs by limiting expansion plans, restricting immigration growth for rural Canada, and not allowing the industry to increase its export capacity."

The meat council wants the next federal government to adjust the 10-20 percent cap on TFW so it's fair for all meat packers and allows the industry to succeed, the council said.

"It's really a cap on processing capacity and our sector's growth potential," Mackinnon said.

"It isn't a partisan issue. It's an economic issue for Canada."

The caps were introduced in 2014 by the former Conservative government headed by Stephen Harper.