Increasing immigration should be a top government priority according to CME after labour and skills shortages in 2022 cost the Canadian economy $13 billion, according to its own survey. PHOTO courtesy Ingersoll.
Increasing immigration levels and other government action to help Canadian manufacturers get the workers they need is one of several government asks from Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME) as the national business lobby group launches into 2023.
While job vacancies in manufacturing declined 8.7 per cent to 78,500 in the third quarter of 2022, they remain significantly higher than before the pandemic. In fact, they were more than double their level of 2017. As a result, close to five per cent of all manufacturing positions were open in this year’s third quarter, up from under three per cent in the same quarter of 2019.
The CME’s own fall 2022 survey of manufacturers revealed that, in the last year alone, labour and skills shortages in the manufacturing sector cost the Canadian economy $13 billion, a consequence of lost sales, penalties for late delivery, and cancelled or delayed capital projects.
“CME’s focus for 2023 is ensuring manufacturers are set up for success and that means continuing to press the government on increasing immigration, and developing an industrial strategy so that our sector does not fall behind,” says CME president and CEO Dennis Darby.
Other issues the CME expects Canadian manufacturers will be facing in 2023, include:
Recession – Economists are predicting a mild recession early in the new year. “That means lack of predictability and project of investment that could be put on hold, at exactly when Canada needs to be investing to compete in the North American and global markets. We will look to encourage incentives and other measures from governments to help de-risk investments,” CME says.
Competitiveness in Canada vs Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) –Manufacturers are also dealing with the consequences of the IRA on the other side of the border. U.S. President Joe Biden’s legislation offers massive consumer and manufacturing production incentives that will act as a magnet to investment, thus limiting the attractiveness of Canada as a place to set up manufacturing operations. “Canada must respond with its own suite of incentives in the next federal budget. While we encouraged by the intentions signaled in the Fall Economic Statement, it is critical that we act quickly to attract the investment needed for the energy transition,” CME says.
Friend-shoring – Federal politicians on both sides of the border are talking about the concept of “friend-shoring” – encouraging companies to invest in democratic countries and away from those with authoritarian regimes. “For Canada’s manufacturers, who are already heavily integrated across North America, this means strengthening those bonds by a Buy North American,” CME notes.