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Canada has enough food but COVID-19 will still cause challenges, says Agriculture Minister

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Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons, Monday April 29, 2019 in Ottawa. Bibeau is not worried about food shortages overall but acknowledging really challenges in the industry. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

OTTAWA — Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau says Canadians could see higher prices and less variety of food on store shelves this year.

Bibeau says she's confident the country has enough food but acknowledges that COVID-19 is creating challenges across the agricultural industry.

Labour shortages on farms and outbreaks of illness among employees at processing plants are two current issues that affect the food supply.

The federal government has announced millions in new spending for farmers just this week, including money to help employers of temporary foreign workers and to increase the number of food inspectors.

Bibeau says more ways to help are being explored, including how to get students and others into farm jobs and increasing financial support direct to farms.

She says now that the government has put in place major financial assistance programs for most Canadians, the focus can shift to helping specific sectors — like agriculture — more directly.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 15, 2020.

The Canadian Press