Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau has named the 25 young people chosen to sit on the inaugural Canadian Agricultural Youth Council.
Members of the council (see list below) are expected to offer suggestions on government priorities and identify problems and solutions for Bibeau.
“That was quite a challenge actually, because we received over 800 candidates,” Bibeau said Friday in introducing the new council’s members, adding they wanted to have a diverse group.
That meant paying attention to the home regions, sectors and backgrounds of each applicant.
“Some work close to the processing side, or the scientific and food security,” she said. “In terms of the expertise and experience, having diversity as well (was important).”
The application process for the council was launched in January, with a mid-February deadline. Previous plans to introduce the council were put on hold due to COVID-19.
Members are expected to meet more often virtually than they normally would, with Bibeau noting it is easier and “less costly” to do so. The council’s inaugural virtual meeting is scheduled to take place in August, to be followed by “multiple” meetings per year.
“Even more after COVID, I’m thinking about the vision for the ag sector. Obviously, I want it to be a sustainable ag vision, and I really look forward to having discussions with the youth on this,” she said, noting she is hoping to hear from members their thoughts on business risk management programs, labour and intergenerational transfers and mental health.
“These are the types of subjects I expect they might bring.”
Bibeau has several challenges ahead of her in the coming months, with reforms to business risk management topping the list.
Producer groups have long complained the current suite of programs do not adequately support them.
“I need to hear from as many people as possible,” she said. “I like to have candid conversations and not necessarily with people who are coming with lines to lobby me, but hearing real stories.”
Bibeau said doing so will “help me understand better the challenges, and expectations, of the new generation.”
“It will definitely influence the options that I will bring forward, and it will give me more conviction when I bring these options forward because I will have heard from them,” she said.
Employment and skills
News of the youth council’s selection followed an announcement from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada that roughly 800 new positions are expected to be created in 2020-21 through the Youth Employment and Skills Program.
The program was enhanced in May to help young people find work during the COVID-19 pandemic and is now “fully subscribed” for the 2020-21 program year.
Ottawa put up $9.2 million to help the industry attract people between the ages of 15 to 30 and assist in addressing nagging labour shortages across the sector.
“This program provides youth from across the country, and particularly youth facing barriers to employment, with job experience in agriculture that will provide career-related work experience,” Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada said in a release.
Eligible applicants to the program included producers, agribusinesses, industry associations, provincial and territorial governments as well as research facilities.
— D.C. Fraser reports for Glacier FarmMedia from Ottawa.
Canadian Agricultural Youth Council members
Gordon Bell, Ontario
Jerry Bos, New Brunswick
Vicki Brisson, Ontario
B Pratyusha Chennupati, Alberta
Andrea De Roo, Saskatchewan
Chantele Gouliquer, Manitoba
Marcus Grymonpré, British Columbia
Paul Hrycyk, Ontario
Sameeha Jhetam, Saskatchewan
Brent Kobes, Saskatchewan
Samuel Lanctôt, Quebec
Jessica Leung, British Columbia
Carling Matejka, Alberta
Ila Matheson, Prince Edward Island
Césarée Morier-Gxoyiya, Quebec
Sarah Ouellette, Yukon
Steven Paolitto, Quebec
Guillaume Pasquier, Ontario
Lauren Peters, Nova Scotia
Kayoki Post-Whiteduck, Quebec
Colby Robertson, Alberta
Rose Seguin, Quebec
Easton Sellers, Manitoba
Sara Kate Smith, British Columbia
Kalysha Snow, Newfoundland and Labrador