• A new report from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business shows that Quebec is yet again leading the pack when it comes to job vacancies.
  • Province-wide, 4.0% of Quebec jobs are unfilled as the economy grows and population demographics fail to catch up.
  • We spoke with Simon Gaudreault from the CFIB to uncover what Quebec needs to do to fill this void in the workforce.

A new report done by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business indicates that in the third quarter of 2019, Quebec is yet again leading the nation in terms of highest job vacancy, a position the province has held for eight consecutive quarters as Quebec jobs continue to go unfilled. The report breaks down the number of unfilled or "vacant" positions seen across the country as labour shortages continue to "plague" the private sector.

The report also outlines which sectors within each Canadian province are maintaining the most vacancies, highlighting the personal services industry and construction industry.

We spoke with Simon Gaudreault, Senior Director of National Research at the CFIB and he let us know why Quebec was seeing this long-standing issue of vacancies as well as what he thinks could help to turn this nationwide issue around.

The current national job vacancy average for this quarter (Q3 2019) is 3.2%, a percentage that has managed to stabilize over the last five quarters. Quebec's provincial average reaches above that at 4.0%, with the number of vacancies reaching nearly 120,000.

Gaudreault and the CFIB attribute this high vacancy rate in Quebec to the population demographics of the province and the strong Quebec economy — which perhaps sounds like it should have a positive impact on jobs, but it's a rather tangled web, as it turns out.

The problem in Quebec is that, as the economy grows, more and more positions are created, positions that remain vacant if there is no one qualified or considered capable of fulfilling the post.

Gaudreault explains that Ontario has a "similar profile," where the demographics show an ageing population, though not as quickly as that of Quebec.

The graph above, included in the full report, compares the progression of vacancies in both Ontario and Quebec.

We asked Gaudreault what he thought the solution to this problem could be, and he was very clear, "There is no silver bullet. The solution will have to come from a mix of solutions."

So even if the economy in Quebec were to slow down tomorrow, this would not solve the demographic factor that plays into these job vacancies.

"Labour shortages are not going to go away overnight," Gaudreault explains, and we are going to need "well thought out and durable solutions."

Gaudreault confirmed that, yes, immigration would absolutely impact the demographic shortfalls that Quebec is currently seeing in relation to labour shortages.

Other individuals that could also be considered as fantastic options for these unfilled positions include, "retired people who are willing to start a second career, First Nations people, handicapped people, people that have traditionally been left unemployed — we need to include more of these people in the labour market."

Gaudreault considers this solution (or part of the solution) as a win for employers and those people that can now actively participate in the workforce. Also noted was the importance of training and re-training people as well as maintaining top-of-the-line education systems throughout the province.

Lastly, Gaudreault indicated that reducing the reliance on labour would actually work to decrease vacancies — which seems backwards, but if you consider the ins-and-outs, it makes sense.


READ ALSO: The Montreal Fashion Industry Needs To Fill 5,000 Jobs & Here Are Some Available Now

In the survey, respondents "indicate the total number
of employees who are currently working in their company at
full-time and part-time. They must also respond to
the question: 'How many vacancies are there in your
company for at least 4 months because you're not 
able to find qualified employees?' The lack of response
is treated as an absence of vacancies."

Because the rate of vacancies corresponds directly to the total number of vacancies, divided by the sum of positions held and vacant positions, if there are fewer positions left open for humans, the rate of vacancies would decrease.

Productivity could be improved as well, if companies embrace automation for positions that allow it.

The graph above, included in the full report, shows the number of "skilled posts" and posts that are considered "semi- or low-skilled posts" that remain vacant in Quebec, of which both have seen an uptick in this quarter.

Of course, there are some positions that require the human touch, and for those industries that rely heavily on people, the only solution is people.

The graph below, from Statistics Canada, shows job vacancies across Canada, which rose in 6 of the 10 largest industrial sectors in terms of employment during the second quarter of 2019.

The second and third industries are generally made up of skilled and semi-skilled workers, therefore the vacant posts would require individuals who have been trained or who could be trained here.

However, the leading industry nationwide last quarter, accommodation and food service, is a relatively low-skilled position, with training usually happening in-house and taking somewhere between 2 and 4 weeks.

This quarter, construction was also recorded as having a vacancy rate of 4.7%, and industry we know all-too-well to be constantly booming in Quebec.  

Here's hoping the CAQ sees this data and uses it in any immigration reform because the evidence is clear: Quebec is in dire need of a boost to the provincial workforce.

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