MP Dan Albas is the Conservative shadow minister for employment.

Conservative MPs propose program to put students to work in food industry

MP Dan Albas is taking the lead on a push to create a new federal program to match students and young people with jobs in the food and agricultural section, in response to COVID-19.

Like the Canada Summer Jobs program, the initiative is proposed to cover the minimum wage of a new student or youth employee. The wage would be supplemented by an additional stipend paid by the employer.

Albas, representing Okanagan Similkameen Nicola, is the Conservative shadow minister for employment. He is partnering with MP John Barlow, shadow minister for agriculture, Mel Arnold, shadow minister for fisheries, and Raquel Dancho, shadow minister for youth to make the petition to the Trudeau government.

Related: Bibeau says Canada has enough food but COVID-19 will still bring challenges

“Canada’s food supply chains are facing a critical shortage of workers, due to COVID-19,” said Barlow. “These vacancies have the potential to disrupt production and could translate into higher costs at the grocery store for Canadians. Farmers and ranchers have told me first hand how they need more support and could benefit from this type of program. For Canadian youth, they will be introduced to the incredible career opportunities in agriculture.”

Many agriculture, fish and seafood businesses rely on the Temporary Foreign Workers or Seasonal Agricultural Workers programs. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year these sectors are facing significant labor shortages.

Relate: ‘Overwhelming, incredible’ support for foreign workers following West Kelowna COVID-19 outbreak

“Conservatives continue to put forward constructive solutions to help Canadians affected by COVID-19,” said MP Albas. “I hope the government will implement this common-sense policy to support essential businesses and help students and youth gain meaningful work experience.”

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