Canada is dealing with labour shortage despite lowest unemployment rate ever and record immigration in 2021. Recently, Canada reported 5.2% unemployment rate for April 2022. This is the record low as compared to available oldest historical data of 1976.
Furthermore, Canada welcomed record 401,000 new immigrants in 2021 which was the highest number of newcomers in Canada’s history. However, it seems to be an uncomfortable statement, “Canada struggling with labour shortage.” Recently, Canada announced new measures to address labour shortage in April 2022.
Headline of a report from CBC in April 2022 was phrased as “The labour shortage isn’t over — and employers are having to lower their hiring expectations.” The report also said as we quote “According to a recent survey of 510 Canadian hiring decision-makers, one in four employers have hired someone they normally wouldn’t have due to a shortage in workers.”
A day old headline of a report by Global News said, “B.C. restaurants call for looser foreign worker rules amid labour shortage.” Furthermore, the report quoted estimates from the B.C. Restaurant and Foodservices Association (BCRFA). They estimate the industry is currently short between 35,000 and 40,000 workers.
The BCRFA wants the the provincial government to seek a temporary exemption for B.C. hospitality employers from the need to file federal Labour Market Impact Assessments (LMIAs). B.C. Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon said the province is aware of concerns, and in talks with the federal government about how to improve the program.
What’s The Reason – Immigration Connection
Immigration is an important contributor to Canada’s economy adding more numbers to labour market. However, there was a big change in IRCC’s immigration policy during pandemic. IRCC temporarily halted skilled worker immigration under Canada’s express entry system from outside Canada in December 2020. Also, Canada’s population aged 65 and older grew from 14.4 per cent to 18.5 per cent in last 10 years.
Furthermore, foreign skilled workers (outside Canada) who were already invited between March 2020 to December 2020 were not allowed to enter Canada until June 2021. Additionally, skilled workers from outside Canada relied only on provincial nominations. But, those invited in PNP draws are facing around 22 months of processing times.
Record immigration levels were achieved in 2021 with temporary residents already in Canada. Those temporary residents were already contributing to Canadian economy and were already present in Canadian labour market. It was change in their status from temporary to permanent. It’s clearly obvious that temporary residents inside Canada needs to be provided permanent status to retain the skills.
But, it’s equally important to introduce skill sets directly from outside Canada. This is what led to success of express entry system contributing positively to Canadian labour market. Should there have been no halt on skilled immigrants from outside Canada, unemployment rate and labour market situation would have been quite different.
Apart from this, there was no separate invitations for Federal Skilled Trades under express entry system. Last federal skilled trades draw was on August 6, 2020. And, these are the sectors which are dealing most with labour shortage. This includes following 6 sectors:
- Industrial, electrical and construction trades – Major Group 72
- Maintenance and equipment operation trades – Major Group 73
- Supervisors and technical jobs in natural resources, agriculture and related production – Major Group 82
- Processing, manufacturing and utilities supervisors and central control operators – Major Group 92
- Chefs and cooks – Minor Group 632
- Butchers and bakers – Minor Group 633
IRCC has shared in their immigration levels plan 2022-2024 that express entry system will be fully restored by 2024.