The Government of Canada invests in innovation to support the Canadian greenhouse sector

News release

November 26, 2018 – Vineland Station, Ontario – Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

The Canadian greenhouse sector is the largest and fastest growing segment of Canadian horticulture, thanks to the dedication and endless hard work from our growers across the country. This past year, Canadian greenhouse vegetable sales totalled over $1.4 billion, with over $900 million of sales in Ontario.

Today, Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food was at the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre to announce a federal investment of up to $5 million to the Automation Cluster under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership. The Cluster will be led by the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre Inc.

Canada’s agricultural sector faces significant labour challenges and the greenhouse industry has the largest labour gap. It is estimated that labour shortages can cost the sector up to $1.5 billion in lost productivity and sales. The Automation Cluster will help address labour costs and availability through automation, artificial intelligence and precision agriculture technologies in the horticulture sector. Over the next five years, world-class researchers at Vineland will focus research on three key areas, including:

  • developing and testing robotic harvesters for greenhouse cucumbers;
  • developing smart, wireless irrigation technologies for potted flowers and vegetables; and
  • developing state-of-the-art sensors that will help detect and monitor moisture levels in the soil and air.


“Our Government is proud to support the innovative research at Vineland and we will continue to work with Canada’s growers and researchers to keep the sector on the cutting edge. This investment in automation will allow farms and greenhouses to work smarter and deliver higher quality jobs, ensuring they continue to meet the growing demand for top-quality products for Canadians and consumers around the world.”
- Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

“Our Government has identified agriculture as a priority sector to achieve growth and job creation. This investment will enhance the sustainability of the Canadian greenhouse sector, delivering economic benefits and job growth opportunities, while enabling the development of more cost-effective practices and production of high quality products.”
- Chris Bittle, Member of Parliament for St. Catharines

"The greenhouse sector is an important part of our growing economy here in Ontario. Support for projects such as this one emphasize the Government’s commitment to work with industry to find new solutions to help the sector address labour shortages, while keeping their businesses strong and competitive.”
- Vance Badawey, Member of Parliament for Niagara Centre

“This funding is critical to the industry and Vineland is pleased to manage a national network focused on developing automation, artificial intelligence and precision technology to improve the competitive position of Canadian growers.”
- Dr. Tania Humphrey, Chief Scientific Officer, Vineland Research and Innovation Centre

Quick facts

  • In 2017, the farm gate value of Canada's greenhouse vegetables was $1.4 billion, with over $900 million of sales in Ontario.

  • The Government of Canada has identified the agriculture and agri-food sector as a core driver of jobs, growth and prosperity, setting a target to grow Canada's agri-food exports to $75 billion annually by 2025.

  • The Canadian Agricultural Partnership is a five-year, $3 billion investment by federal, provincial and territorial governments to strengthen the agriculture and agri-food sector. The Partnership builds on Growing Forward 2, the previous five-year agreement that ended on March 31, 2018.

  • The Partnership includes programs and activities to enhance the competitiveness of the sector through research, science and innovation. Through the AgriScience Program, a five-year, $338 million initiative, the government is supporting leading edge discovery and applied science, and innovation driven by industry research priorities.

Associated links


Katie Hawkins
Director of Communications
Office of the Honourable Lawrence MacAulay

Media Relations
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
Ottawa, Ontario
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