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Part 1: The Baking Association of Canada and the State of Things

by Dina Hamed

Who is the Baking Association of Canada (BAC), and what do they do? According to Martin Barnett (personal communication, September 29, 2021), BAC represents all bakers and their interests in Canada, focusing on three main foundations, advocacy and public policy, resources, and education. BAC is dedicated to representing the baking industry concerning any government or regulatory issues, providing resources to its members including the annual tradeshow, and building educational opportunities through the national office outside of the Red Seal apprenticeship or college certificate programs (Barnett, personal communication, September 29, 2021). The national association also provides support to the provincial chapters who are involved on a grassroots level providing networking opportunities to their respective areas and running fundraising initiatives that help fund student bursaries (Barnett, personal communication, September 29, 2021). Currently there are three chapters: Atlantic, Ontario, and B.C, with the hopes of developing a new Alberta or prairie chapter and maintaining affiliation with the baking association operating in Quebec (The Baking Association of Canada, 2021). 

In 2014, Martin wrote an article titled “Easing Labour Pains,” featured in the Baker’s Journal. He spoke about the difficulties bakery owners were facing to find qualified candidates for vacant positions at the time. One solution that was discussed was to increase the number of Red Seal certified bakers in the industry by signing up those already working, without the certification, as “junior affiliates” to their local BAC chapter, thereby forming a network of members who would have their competency in the trade evaluated by qualified employers. Once evaluated, a recommendation would be made for that junior affiliate to be granted the Red Seal certification. Thereby, infusing the industry with a surge of new certified bakers who could then climb up the industry ladder and take over as more seasoned bakers retired (Barnett, 2014). A great idea!

Fast forward to 2021, unfortunately according to Martin (personal communication, September 29, 2021), not much happened with that great 2014-idea. The baking industry still faces the same labour problem or shortage (Neustaeter, 2021). What’s even more strange, the enrollment numbers in the 1-2-year baking and pastry arts certificate programs are high (Barnett, personal communication, September 29, 2021), yet employers still report struggling to find and retain workers for qualified positions. Why? I asked Martin if this issue might be in part, due to the state of our current educational system, and while he couldn’t say for sure, he did say:

Right now, the Baking Association of Canada has an opportunity to reset after what happened [(referring to the pandemic)] and I’m really glad that I’m involved in this reset. Because I think we’ve missed the boat in a lot of areas over the years. We’ve done a lot of good work, but we’ve definitely missed out on education and engaging the smaller bakers in Canada. And that’s a generational thing. So, it’s time to reach back down to the grassroots and ask, ‘What do you want as a small baker? What are your needs?’ That’s an important piece that I’m looking at. (Barnett, personal communication, September 29, 2021) 

So, it looks like these issues are on BAC’s radar and they have the right person at the helm to help steer the ship back on course.

References

Barnett, M. (2014, August 29). Easing Labour Pains. Retrieved from https://www.bakersjournal.com/easing-labour-pains-4909/

Neustaeter, B. (2021, October 05). These Canadian industries are currently facing the biggest labour shortages. Retrieved from https://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/these-canadian-industries-are-currently-facing-the-biggest-labour-shortages-1.5612004

The Baking Association of Canada. (2021). Retrieved from https://baking.ca/