Government of Canada enhances Youth Employment and Skills Program to help create new positions for youth in the agriculture sector

News release

May 26, 2020 – Ottawa, Ontario – Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of Canada is taking steps to ensure the resilience of the food supply chain and to provide support to keep the agriculture sector strong. The Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, today announced an investment of up to $9.2 million to enhance the Youth Employment and Skills Program (YESP) and fund up to 700 new positions for youth in the agriculture industry.

This additional funding will help the agriculture industry attract Canadian youth, ages 15 to 30, to their organizations to assist with labour shortages brought on by the pandemic. This program aims to provide youth, and particularly youth facing barriers to employment, with job experience in agriculture that will provide career-related work experience.

The YESP will provide agriculture employers up to 50 per cent of the cost of hiring a Canadian youth up to $14,000. Indigenous applicants and those applicants hiring a youth facing barriers are eligible for funding of up to 80 per cent of their costs.

Eligible applicants include producers, agri-businesses, industry associations, provincial and territorial governments, Indigenous organizations and research facilities. Employers may apply for this funding retroactive to April 1, 2020, with projects to be completed by March 31, 2021.

Application forms are available through the Youth Employment and Skills Program, or to get more information, please contact, or call: 1-866-452-5558.


"During this unprecedented time, our food producers are working hard to feed Canada, while adjusting their businesses to new challenges, such as a shortage of workers. This program will help agricultural and agri-food businesses meet their labour needs with support for up to 700 workers, while allowing more young people in Canada to explore the limitless potential this industry has to offer."

- The Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

"Our government recognizes the importance of investing in our youth, and keeping them connected to the labour market in these extraordinary times. Programs like the Youth Employment and Skills Strategy, that help to break down barriers to employment and give young Canadians the support they need to launch meaningful careers in vital sectors like such as agriculture, are paramount to ensuring a strong economic recovery."

- The Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion

"Young Canadians are talented, ambitious, and hard-working, yet getting a strong start in the workforce can be challenging for many, especially during this uncertain time. This funding will go to support up to 700 jobs in agriculture and provide young people an opportunity to discover the limitless potential of the agriculture and agri-food industries."

- The Honourable Bardish Chagger, Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth

Quick facts

  • Applications are being accepted (AAFC Youth Employment and Skills Program) on a continuous basis beginning immediately.

  • The Government of Canada's Youth Employment and Skills Strategy (YESS) is an Employment and Social Development Canada-led horizontal initiative involving 11 federal departments and agencies.

  • This announcement builds on the measures we have introduced to keep Canada's agri-workforce strong, including:

    • Travel exemptions for all temporary foreign workers, including seasonal agricultural workers and fish/seafood workers.
    • $50 million to help the farming, fish harvesting, and food production and processing sectors cover the incremental costs of associated with the mandatory 14-day isolation period imposed under the Quarantine Act on temporary foreign workers upon entering Canada.
    • An expanded Canada Summer Jobs program to prioritize agri-food workers.
    • IRCC changes to its process to allow temporary workers with an employer-specific work permit, including in agriculture, to quickly change employers when they find a new job. Workers who used to wait 10 weeks or more to begin a new job, will now only wait 10 days or less.
    • A pilot project for temporary foreign workers who work year-round in the agriculture industry to have a pathway to permanent residency.
    • A ‘Step up to the Plate' employment portal and agriculture jobs recruitment campaign.

Associated links


Jean-Sébastien Comeau
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Media Relations
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
Ottawa, Ontario
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