OTTAWA — The Canadian Dairy Commission (CDC) has launched the Workforce Development Initiative (WDI), a three-year, $5-million investment to develop and support a qualified workforce in the Canadian dairy industry.

Organizations eligible for a piece of this funding include industry associations and learning institutions. The CDC will evaluate applications during the summer and funding will begin in the the third quarter of 2018.

The WDI is composed of four key funding programs:

A Scholarship Program with scholarships for graduate students in fields related to the dairy industry. A Career Promotion Program for the promotion of careers in the dairy industry. An Education Program to aide in the creation of government-certified, full-time educational programs in order to train qualified staff to work in dairy plants. A Continuing Education Program to develop opportunities for continuing education for current dairy plant and farm staff.

“The CDC’s Workforce Development Initiative will help attract new and qualified workers to the dairy sector, which is of vital importance to remain competitive and foster continuous innovation. Canada’s dairy sector creates good jobs, helping to grow the middle class, strengthening the economy and ensuring that Canadian families enjoy our country’s high-quality dairy products,” said Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food.

The Canadian dairy sector includes 10,951 farms where 945,000 cows produce close to 8.5-billion litres of milk per year, while the milk processing industry ships $15.2-million in products and employs about 22,900 people in 471 plants.