Canada announces sweeping changes for meat plant labor

The Canadian government has announced a big change in the hiring of foreign-born temporary workers in meat processing plants.

The new policy, according to a CBC report, allows processors to staff up to 30% of their plant staff with temporary foreign workers, triple the original limit of 10%.

The Canadian Meat Council has been lobbying for such labor reforms since last September, when it shared butcher job vacancy numbers of 40% in Quebec and 20% in Alberta. Marie-France MacKinnon, the CMC's senior vice president of public affairs and communications, told the CBC that the new quota will "really help stabilize our food supply chain by allowing us to hire the workers we need."

Thomas Hesse, who is president of the UFCW's Local 401 in Alberta, spoke out against the new labor policy. Calling it a "shocking change," Hesse told CBC the policy does not address the real reason for the vacancies — plant working conditions — and as such, will provide "the employer a very complicit and malleable workforce."

Labor reforms have been a consistent lobbying point for U.S. meat associations as well. The NPPC, in particular, has argued for expansions to the H-2A visa program, and most recently discussed the matter with legislators during the 2022 Legislative Action Conference.

Par : Peter Thomas Ricci (06/05/2022)

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