Agricultural Trade and Market Access
Canadian farmers and food processors depend on trade, exporting half of the value of their production. Agri-food exports hit a new record in 2018 reaching $66.2 billion, putting Canada within reach of its $75 billion target in agriculture, agri-food and seafood exports annually by 2025. The growth of the sector depends on maintaining and increasing access to key international markets, including the U.S., European Union and the Asia-Pacific regions. The Ministers discussed market diversification and the ongoing implementation and success of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), which are already creating good middle class jobs and providing farmers with new opportunities in key markets. The Ministers also discussed the Canada-United States-Mexico agreement, which was signed in November of 2018. Once ratified, the agreement will strengthen ties between the three countries and contribute to North America’s global competitiveness. The Ministers also discussed the need for collaboration between provinces and the federal government in identifying both market access and bilateral and trade negotiating priorities.
Labour and skills development remain a top priority for the long-term growth of Canada’s agriculture and agri-food sector. The Provincial and Territorial Ministers recognized the efforts made to improve service delivery of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, as well as measures to support the transition of foreign workers to permanent residency, including through targeted opportunities for two-year Labour Market Impact Assessments. The Government of Canada has also taken further action to support transitions of foreign workers to permanent residency in all provinces, with the exception of Quebec, including two new federal immigration pilots launched in 2019, the extension of the Atlantic Immigration Pilot and 2,000 new Provincial Nominee Program positions. As per the Canada-Quebec Accord, Quebec maintains responsibility for the selection, reception and integration of immigrants to the province. The Provincial and Territorial Ministers also look forward to engaging on the final recommendations of the Primary Agriculture Review and are looking forward to changes being made as soon as possible.
The provinces and territories affirmed the urgency of obtaining short-term administrative changes regarding:
- Continued progress in addressing issues with the cap on the temporary foreign workers on the low wage stream of the program;
- easier access to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and faster processing, particularly for recognized employers;
- a modernization of the National Commodities List.
The Ministers agreed to take action to facilitate technology adoption that reduces labour shortages and improves productivity, and to identify and fill data and information gaps related to labour and skills development Footnote 1.
Business Risk Management (BRM) Review
The Ministers noted progress made in addressing the recommendations made last year by the Expert Panel on the BRM Review. The Ministers discussed options on potential changes to the AgriStability program to ensure equitable treatment and to simplify the program. They agreed to analyze how AgriStability treats private insurance payments, and directed officials to find solutions that will also encourage the development and use of complementary risk management tools. The Ministers agreed to meet again by the end of 2019 with an aim to implement changes in these areas for 2020.
Regular industry engagement through the National Program Advisory Committee and other Canada-wide and regional industry groups has informed the work of officials. The Ministers remain committed to continued engagement with industry, external experts and other stakeholders.
African Swine Fever
The FPT Ministers reviewed actions being taken to prevent entry of African swine fever (ASF) into Canada. The Ministers are committed to ongoing engagement with industry to evaluate Canada’s animal health emergency management systems, to prevent and prepare for ASF, and to ensure business continuity should ASF enter Canada. Work also continues to negotiate zoning agreements with important trading partners, such as the ones already put in place with the United States and the European Union, so that trade can continue quickly from parts of the country that remain free from the disease.
Canada’s regulatory system provides globally renowned quality and safety to Canadians and our trading partners. The Ministers discussed the regulatory review of the agri-food sector that was recently completed, highlighting the importance of collaborative action to streamline regulations that hinder innovation, competitiveness and economic growth in the sector. The Ministers adopted a common set of principles and will focus on the following priorities: competitiveness in global markets, implementation of regulations to spur innovation, traceability and surveillance, collaboration with Health Canada on food safety and with Pest Management Regulatory Agency on the pesticide re-assessment process, reducing internal trade barriers, implementing Canadian Plant Health Council work plans, implementing measures to support the sector in dealing with animal health emergency issues.
The Food Policy for Canada
Minister Bibeau presented an overview of the recently announced federal Food Policy for Canada. The Food Policy for Canada is a roadmap for a healthier and more sustainable food system in Canada – one that builds on the federal government’s agenda to support the growth of Canada’s farmers and food businesses. There will be ongoing collaboration with provinces and territories on Food Policy-related issues. Provinces and Territories also discussed their food-policy related initiatives.