Two new reports are suggesting that Canada’s impending labour shortage might not be as severe as experts had been warning for the past several years.
This fall both the Toronto Dominion Bank and Montreal’s Institute for Research on Public Policy released reports suggesting that there is little evidence supporting the labour shortage theory.
Despite repeated warnings of labour shortages, both from the Canadian government trying to justify policy decisions as well as from employers who claim to be having difficulty finding the workers they need, economists say there is little evidence to support such claims.
The TD report looked at job vacancy rates across the country, as well as shifts in wage patterns, and found that despite the continued growth in the Prairies, employer demands in the West are being offset by unemployment in other areas of the country.
“We definitely don’t have broad labour shortages right now, because we still have effectively more workers looking for work than there are positions,” said Cliff Halliwell, author of the Institute for Research on Public Policy report. “That doesn’t mean there aren’t places, say, in Northern Alberta, where they’re facing difficulties hiring workers or in specific occupations.”
In fact, employers looking to fill precisely those positions are often the ones who raise the shortage issue, and look to the temporary foreign worker program to find the labour they need. So far this year the government appears to be bringing in more temporary workers than last year, with recent program changes expected to spark continued interest in the program.
Experts say that policy-makers would be better off focusing their efforts toward increased training and skills matching, rather than trying to grow the overall labour pool.
Source: Globe and Mail