10-12-2015

Atlantic Canada & free trade agreement with Europe

Atlantic Canada will not benefit from the free trade agreement with Europe if Changes to Temporary Foreign Worker Program Are Not reversed: Atlantic Food & Beverage Processors Association

(Moncton: October 15, 2014) “If Atlantic food processors are to have a fair shot at accessing new markets as a result of the free trade agreement with Europe (CETA), then the Federal Government must re-consider the reductions in temporary foreign workers which will result from changes to the program ” says Don Newman, Executive Director of the Atlantic Food & Beverage Processors Association.

The Association joins a growing number of Atlantic food industry representatives who argue that efforts to expand export markets through CETA will be undermined by changes to the temporary foreign worker program.

The food industry, when defined as including farming, fishing, processing and related industries including tourism, is the most important industry in Atlantic Canada.

The food processing industry is highly efficient. It is made up of over 500 companies with over half of them being fish and seafood companies, with many of them in rural communities. Export sales of both agri-food, such as processed potatoes, and fish and seafood bring in several billion dollars per year.

The fish and seafood companies are quite excited about the free trade agreement because it should reduce tariffs by 18% and provide access to 508 million people in the European market.

But the politically motivated changes to the temporary foreign worker program are now forcing the plants out of business simply because workers are needed to process their product and the workers don’t exist in many communities.

What the processing sector needs is to be treated the same as farmers that continue to have ready access to foreign workers to harvest their crops.

“The companies that we represent have said loudly and clearly that the impact of the loss of temporary foreign workers will be a profound effect on the production capacity of the food and beverage sector. It makes no sense to pursue a trade agreement to expand markets, while at the same time hampering the production capacity of companies by dramatically reducing their manpower availability.”

“Our companies also recognize that hiring Canadians and supporting our communities is of utmost importance. The companies have said that Canadians must have first chance at available jobs. But there is also a need for foreign workers due to the chronic labour shortages that we are experiencing. Our needs far exceed the Canadian labour pool available locally. Foreign workers are needed to round out the workforce for many plants

and the impact of losing a significant number of foreign workers will be loss of Canadian jobs.”

 

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Don Newman, Executive Director
Atlantic Food & Beverage Processors Association
don@atlanticfood.ca
506-389-7892 (office) or 506-850-1553 (mobile)

 

The companies that we represent have said loudly and clearly that the impact of the loss of temporary foreign workers will be a profound effect on the production capacity of the food and beverage sector.