Social Responsibility

As employers and rural citizens, grain producers have a direct influence on the well-being of their employees and communities.

Producing safe food in an environmentally friendly and economically viable way requires committed workers to support grain producers in their operations. Ensuring the industry’s licence to operate in the long term also necessitates nurturing respectful and harmonious relationships with the communities in which grain production takes place. Explore this section to learn more about how the sector fosters harmonious relationships between growers and their communities, protects the basic labour rights of farm workers and ensures a safe workplace.

Sustainability Reports

Each of the following sustainability reports provides a guide to what you will find in the report; a detailed report including supporting data; identification of industry initiatives to enhance sustainability and information on international sustainability requirements related to this subject.
Community Relations
Fostering harmonious relationships between growers and their communities

Nurturing respectful and harmonious relationships with the communities in which grain farms operate is essential to ensure the industry’s license to operate in the long term.

The development of good community relations enables farms to contribute to the social acceptability of its activities, but also to strengthen their presence on the territory.

Community relations pertain to actions that make a positive contribution to the social fabric or at least minimize potential negative impacts.

Such actions include:

  • Dialoguing with local stakeholders
  • Setting up mechanisms for resolving complaints
  • Managing nuisance induced by normal farm activities (e.g. odour, dust, noise, chemical spraying, flies)
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Labour Relations
Protecting the basic labour rights of farm workers

Labour relations refers to how the basic labour rights of farm workers are ensured. The objective of these rights is to protect workers and the most vulnerable ones in particular, against any forms of work abuses. Expected labour rights are defined at the international level through the International Labour Organization (ILO), a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN). Canada is a member of the ILO.

Basic worker rights are embedded in international standards including the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the ILO’s fundamental conventions, include those of:

  • Child labour – to foster the complete physical and mental development of children and eliminate all forms of child exploitation 
  • Forced and compulsory labour – to ensure that employees do not work under any threat of penalty or punishment
  • Freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining – to allow open, respectful dialogue with between employees and employers
  • Discrimination in employment – to refrain from any discrimination against employees on any basis, including for the reasons of age, race, colour and gender

Other issues deemed important are conflict management and a satisfactory working environment.

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Working Conditions
Providing competitive working conditions for farm employees

Working conditions refer to the provisions related to paid work and the employment relationship. Working conditions cover a broad range of topics, from working time (hours of work, rest periods and work schedules) to remuneration.

Working conditions are usually established between employers and workers based on a private negotiation process. However, minimum employment standards are in place in most regions to protect the rights of employees and ensure that they are being treated fairly and with respect.

The most common Employment Standards provisions include the following:

  • Wages, pay and deductions
  • Working hours and overtime
  • Employment records
  • Benefits, including vacations and holidays

These provisions, whether legally enforced or freely established, are usually formalized through working contracts. 

Most grain farms in Canada are family-owned and labour is provided by family members. Only a portion of farms rely on hired labour to perform their activities. For example, in 2016 less than 10,000 farms in Saskatchewan reported hiring employees (full-time; part-time; seasonal or temporary), which is about one-third of farms in this major grain-producing province which has 45% of the cropland in Canada1. A survey conducted in 2013 in Quebec showed that close to 60% of salary costs are paid out to family members2.
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Work Safety & Security
Ensuring people's health and well-being
Ensuring people’s health and well-being is an important component of the sustainability agenda worldwide and a focus on Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) plays a key role in achieving this objective. The creation of safe and healthy workplaces can help avoid incidents that can negatively impact producers, their families, and their staff. A safe and healthy workplace can also contribute to the personal and professional development of the people active on the farm operation.
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