On the labour front, I had a set of meetings in Ottawa last week with the parliamentary secretary for labour, and we delved into this issue in quite a bit of detail. You're right that there are upwards of 1,500 vacancies in beef plants across Canada. Of course, that means those plants aren't running efficiently. We all know what happens to plants that aren't efficient: there is always the threat of a closure. This is top of mind for the industry. I think there is some worry, some risk, in this area.
We are hopeful. The ESDC has struck out on the review process on aspects of the temporary foreign worker program. We're working closely with the Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council to provide input into that. I am strongly encouraged that on the beef-plant side we may be able to get a resolution of this issue sooner rather than later. That certainly is good news.
With respect to on-farm workers, the amount of red tape and administrivia associated with the temporary foreign worker program makes it difficult. We continue to hear reports that there is definitely a need to reduce red tape in program administration. We believe temporary foreign workers can serve as a gateway for immigration into this country. Those who are successful should be transitioned into permanent residents, and it acts as a good screening process for those who could succeed in Canada. Certainly, that's what our industry needs. We don't want temporary workers; we want permanent workers.
With respect to agri-stability and business risk initiatives, I'm unfortunately less verbose in that area. It's not a particular area in which I work. The president and CEO typically has more of a direct role in that. As an association, however, we're quite proud of the work we've done in that area, particularly at Lethbridge College. We've partnered with the college and the university to create a new program in business risk management in agriculture and to provide certification for people in that program. It continues to be an ongoing topic of discussion, because we all know the risks inherent in agriculture, and government needs to provide the essential backstop to ensure that investment continues in this field.