We recently had the pleasure of meeting with one of our generous partners, the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ Association (OFVGA). The OFVGA is a not-for-profit association established in 1859 to advocate on behalf of fruit and vegetable farmers in the province. Currently, the Ontario fruit and vegetable sector includes over 3,500 family farms and 30,000 farm-based jobs. The sector grows more than 125 different fruit and vegetable crops in the province.
During our meeting, we met with Gordon Stock who is a Senior Policy Advisor and Government Relations Official at OFVGA. During the pandemic, one of the key policy issues that Mr. Stock has dealt with is labour. The fruit and vegetable industry heavily relies on the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, which allows foreign nationals to work in Canada for a limited time to fill labour shortages. Since different aspects of labour fall under both federal and provincial jurisdiction, it proved challenging to coordinate policy between the two orders of government and handle two different sets of regulations.
We also learned that while Canada has one of the strongest regulatory regimes, there is a lack of global funding for innovative alternatives, and this places strain on the industry. There are continual innovations in crop rotation techniques which are helping those in the industry have better crop yields and healthier soil.
While other jurisdictions like California and Mexico have a competitive advantage in the industry, we all agreed that nothing beats the taste of Ontario strawberries and peaches! We want to sincerely thank Mr. Gordon for taking the time to meet with us and for answering all our questions. We also want to thank the OFVGA for their generous and continued support of our programme.