Youth and young farmers are the future of Canada’s agriculture and agri-food sector. The Government of Canada recognizes that their fresh ideas and approaches will help build a stronger, more innovative sector ready to meet the needs of tomorrow.
Today, the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, delivered remarks at the Canadian Young Farmers’ Forum (CYFF) National Conference. She noted the opportunities for networking and collaboration in the future between the CYFF and the Canadian Agricultural Youth Council, whose 25 members from across the agriculture and agri-food sector help advise the Minister and the Department on policies and programs important to the council. The two groups share many priorities, and both are working to make progress on issues like succession planning, mental health, agricultural awareness and education, and environmental sustainability.
During the conference, Minister Bibeau also highlighted the nearly 1,000 agricultural jobs created through the Youth Employment and Skills Program (YESP) during the 2020/2021 program year, significantly surpassing the 700 jobs originally expected. As announced in May 2020, the Government of Canada invested $9.2 million to help the agriculture industry attract Canadian youth, ages 15 to 30, to their organizations as the sector is facing labour shortages brought on by the pandemic. This program provides youth from across the country, particularly youth facing barriers to employment, with job experience in agriculture that could prepare them for their future careers.
The YESP is part of the Youth Employment and Skills Strategy (YESS), which is the Government of Canada’s commitment to help young people, particularly those facing barriers to employment, get the information and gain the skills, work experience and abilities they need to make a successful transition into the labour market.
“Young people are key to the success of Canada’s agriculture sector. The future belongs to them. Through the participation of the Youth Council and other groups such as the Canadian Young Farmers’ Forum, we are ensuring that their voice is heard and considered in our decisions. We also want to offer young people rewarding professional experiences that help to enhance the sector and address the labour shortage.”
– The Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food
Canadian Agricultural Youth Council members were announced in July of 2020, and represent a diverse mix of representatives from across the agriculture and agri-food sector, as well as from every province and the North.
Through the Youth Employment and Skills Program, agriculture employers received up to 50 percent of the cost of hiring a Canadian youth, up to $14,000. Indigenous applicants and those applicants hiring a youth facing barriers could receive funding of up to 80 percent of their costs.
The Government of Canada’s Youth Employment and Skills Strategy (YESS) is an Employment and Social Development Canada-led horizontal initiative involving 11 federal departments and agencies.