PEI

Shortage of workers costing P.E.I. farms millions, study finds

P.E.I. doesn't have enough agricultural workers, and the losses to the farming sector are expected to rapidly mount, according to a federally-funded study.

Losses have almost quadrupled

Losses to 2017 from a shortage of farm workers are estimated at $15 million. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

P.E.I. doesn't have enough agricultural workers, and the losses to the farming sector are expected to rapidly mount, according to a federally-funded study.

The Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council says the shortage is affecting farm production.

"We're looking at lost sales," said Debra Hauer, manager of labour market information for the council.

"Also farmers are unwilling to expand their businesses because of the uncertainty of not being able to find enough workers."

The report estimates the lost production cost farms $4 million in 2014. By 2017, the losses grew to $15 million, or about three per cent of total production.

'Excessive stress' caused

The council says the Island has been short about 200 workers since 2014, and predicts that will continue into 2029. 

Hauer said the effect is more than financial.

"More than 90 per cent said that it caused excessive stress for owners and other employees because they themselves, and their employees, are having to work extra hours," she said.

The worker shortage is expected to continue at about the current level as farm workers retire. 

Hauer said the survey of farmers found it was difficult to find workers because people did not want to do manual labour, and because much of the work is seasonal.

More P.E.I. news

With files from Laura Chapin

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