PEI

Labour shortage 'inevitable' on P.E.I., researcher says

P.E.I. will face a labour shortage unless it continues to grow its population, a market researcher says.

Don Mills says P.E.I. must continue to increase population to grow economy

New Canadians take the Oath of Citzenship at a ceremony in Stratford, P.E.I. Oct. 14, 2015. Immigration is the key to economic growth in the region, says Don Mills. (CBC)

P.E.I. will face a labour shortage unless it continues to grow its population, a market researcher says.

"I predict we're going to go from high unemployment to low unemployment within the next five to seven years and we don't have to do anything. We just have to wait for people to retire from the workforce," Don Mills of Corporate Research Associates said on CBC's Compass Thursday.

"We're going to have a labour shortage. It's inevitable. The numbers are completely clear on this issue. We have a lot of people who will be retiring over the next 15 years and there's not enough people coming behind them to replace them."

Market researcher Don Mills predicts the region will go from high unemployment to low unemployment within the next seven years. (CBC)

In Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, Mills said, more people are dying than are being born. The same will happen in P.E.I. and Newfoundland in the next couple years. That's why immigration is so important, he said.

"We can't replace our population naturally because soon there will be more people dying on P.E.I. than being born so we have to import people from somewhere. Either other parts of Canada or people from other countries."

Slow growth since 2008-09

In Canada since the recession in 2008-09, economic growth has only been about 1.5 per cent, he said. The previous five years was 2.6 per cent and the previous five before that was 3.8.

We can't replace our population naturally because soon there will be more people dying on P.E.I. than being born.- Don Mills

"If it's slow in Canada, it's extra slow in Atlantic Canada," he said. "It's very hard to create jobs when the economy is growing this slowly. It's even hard to get people raises because of the slow growth of the economy."

But Mills said of the four Atlantic provinces, P.E.I.'s outlook is the brightest because of its steady population growth.

Urban areas doing well

He said he was pleased to see the federal and provincial governments, at a meeting on P.E.I. on Monday, commit to increase immigration.

"Our urban areas are doing very well. Charlottetown is doing very well. It's a very vibrant community. Why? Because the population is growing. Which is adding to the economy."

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