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Number of employees in the agriculture sector, 2021

Released: 2023-04-13

Fewer employees working in the agricultural sector in 2021

There were 276,977 employees in the agriculture sector in 2021, down 0.6% from 2020.

Almost half of all agricultural workers were employed by the horticulture industry in 2021, led by greenhouse, nursery and floriculture production (+2.1% to 61,015), vegetable and melon (-3.1% to 35,028) and fruit and tree nut (+0.7% to 31,037) farms.

Almost half (49.9%) of all employees in the agriculture sector in 2021 were seasonal employees. Over one-fifth of all seasonal employees worked at greenhouse, nursery and floriculture operations (21.9%).

Farms in Ontario hired the most employees (79,382) in 2021, down 0.6% from a year earlier. Quebec followed with 66,424 employees in 2021, 1.5% fewer compared with a year earlier.

Following two years of declines, the number of agricultural workers in British Columbia rose 2.0% in 2021 from a year earlier to 34,934.

More temporary foreign workers were employed in agriculture sector in 2021

The agriculture sector employed 60,992 temporary foreign workers in 2021, up 10.6% from a year earlier. This was the largest increase since 2016, after a year marked by challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jobs held by temporary foreign workers accounted for almost one-quarter (24.3%) of all agriculture jobs in Canada in 2021.

Just over four-fifths of all temporary foreign workers came from Mexico (44.1%), Guatemala (24.1%) or Jamaica (14.8%).

There were 3,386 more temporary foreign workers from Guatemala in 2021 compared with a year earlier, up 30.0%, which is the largest increase among the countries who contributed to this vital pool of labour.

Over two in five (42.3%) temporary foreign workers were employed in the agriculture sector in Ontario (25,822 people), with just over half (51.7%) working in greenhouse, nursery and floriculture operations.

  Note to readers

The number of employees was derived from T4 slips produced by agricultural businesses identified by the Agriculture Taxation Data Program. The full-time, part-time or seasonal employee categories were derived from their employment income compared with the median wage of agricultural workers in their industry as reported in the Labour Force Survey, as well as the monthly employee account reported by agricultural businesses through payroll deductions and payments.

Starting with the 2020 reference year, a farm is defined as an operation that produces at least one agricultural product and will report revenue and/or expenses for that agricultural production to the Canada Revenue Agency, as opposed to the previous definition based on the intention to sell agricultural commodities. Data prior to 2020 have been revised to align with the most recent definition.

Data for this series are subject to revision up to five years prior to the current reference year.

Today's release on estimates of agricultural employees is part of Statistics Canada's AgZero modernization project. This project uses leading-edge methods, data integration and advanced technologies to reduce the response burden on farmers to as close to zero as possible.

Contact information

For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300; infostats@statcan.gc.ca) or Media Relations (statcan.mediahotline-ligneinfomedias.statcan@statcan.gc.ca).

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