Does Canada really have a skilled labour shortage?
Two very different sides to the issue
Brent Bambury of CBC Radio's Day 6 examines whether Canada has a labour shortage amid high unemployment.
Perrin Beatty, President and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, said the shortage is about "specific skills" – for example, skills used in the Alberta oil fields. He adds that many Baby Boomers are also now retiring with no one to fill their shoes.
"In mining alone, in the next decade, they are going to need 80,000 workers… if you look at electricity, in 2013, we need 45,000 new workers."
Beatty says the energy sector, mainly in Western Canada, is "pulling in people from other sectors," draining away workers from industries such as hospitality.
He also points out a lot of workers who have been laid off – particularly older ones , for instance, in the automotive industry in Ontario – are unprepared to move to another province for a job and therefore remain unemployed.
Meanwhile, Erin Weir, economist with the United Steelworkers, doesn’t believe there is a labour shortage.
"Some positions will always be vacant… looking at the [government data] there really isn’t an imbalance."
Weir says companies should be offering better wages.
"Canada has one of the most skilled labour forces in the world. We haven’t seen much of a wage increase in years – it’s only going up about an average of two per cent a year."
Weir says there are a lot of "anecdotes" about the skilled labour shortage but not much evidence.
"I think corporate Canada would like to hire workers at lower wages," said Weir. "Temporary foreign workers allow businesses to put workers in any region without having to train them or provide support for the move."