The fact that one out of every 20 jobs in Canada is currently unfilled should give us serious pause, according to Leah Nord, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce’s Senior Director of Workforce Strategies and Inclusive Growth. The impact from the labour shortage to Canada’s recovery and long-term growth could be significant.
“It seems like every survey shows businesses laser-focused on two issues limiting their recovery and posing the most significant barrier to economic growth: supply chain disruptions and labour shortages. Most businesses believe supply chain disruptions are with us for another year, maybe two, but our members see no end to Canada’s labour shortage crisis,” Nord says.
While there is no silver bullet to fix this fundamental economic challenge, one critical ingredient of a multi-faceted recipe labour market reform is the modernization of Employment Insurance, according to Nord.
“Canada’s EI system has not been reviewed for 70 years, and we now have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to crack this stale nut wide open as the Government of Canada continues to engage in consultations on the EI program,” Nord argues. “Simply put, EI needs to evolve towards becoming a talent development process that responds to the regional and sectoral labour market needs, supporting individuals through temporary job loss with financial and training resources. In order to achieve this however, we need a mechanism wherein all parties – business, labour and government – can engage in a meaningful and sustained way.”
Nord warns that if Canadian businesses can’t find the talent they need to sustain or grow their operations, our economy risks stagnation at a time when growth is a necessity.
“If we have learned anything from COVID-19, it’s that half-measures make things worse. Canada needs a labour market that can help fuel growth, not suffocate it, and that’s unlikely without a comprehensive overhaul of Canada’s EI programs,” Nord says.