The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted Quebec’s labor force.
Quebec started off in 2022 with a low employment rate and an abundance of job opportunities. In an effort to address its labor market shortages and support immigrants – Quebec’s provincial and federal governments have laid out a number of measures.
Even before the pandemic, Quebec faced problematic labor market gaps. The public health measures implemented due to the pandemic have only brought forth new challenges.
Mia Homsy, Chief Executive Officer of the Institut du Québec, stated, “We have begun 2022 with one of the lowest unemployment rates in years and a record number of job vacancies.”
She added, “With a dwindling pool of potential workers and a considerable decrease in the labor market participation rate among those 55 and up, unless businesses, unions, schools, and governments embrace a substantial shift in their approach to human resources management, the labor shortage will undoubtedly be the biggest obstacle to recovery.”
Expected Labor Market Shortages In 2022
As workers reach retirement age amid a period of low unemployment and high job opportunities – Quebec’s aging population will continue to affect the labor supply. Since some workers (including those in the 55+ age group) are yet to return to work – enticing early retirees among them to return will be difficult.
Not to mention the ongoing recruitment problems in accommodation, food services, and retail industries resulting in employees rethinking their existing business models.
Jobs that do not offer options to work from home or in a hybrid model may become less desirable to potential employers. Employers struggling to recruit new employees might need to lower their hiring standards, especially those related to academic credentials. In doing so, companies and employers will be able to focus on professional development and in-house training to maintain competitiveness.
Besides already struggling with digital literacy, Quebec will also be in need of candidates with stronger reading comprehension, writing, and complex solving skills.
Healthcare, social assistance, educational services, information technology, and construction are also some of the sectors in Quebec that are in great need of qualified workers.
Quebec has laid out numerous measures to counter the ongoing labor market shortages in the province. For starters, the province plans on increasing immigration levels and making it easier for employers with labor market shortages to hire temporary foreign workers.
According to Quebec’s Immigration Level Plan released on October 28, the province is set to welcome 52,500 new permanent residents in 2022. Most of these new immigrants will be invited under Quebec’s economic immigration programs including the Quebec Skilled Worker Program (QSWP) and the Quebec Experience Program (PEQ).
Quebec also plans for an additional 18,000 admission to meet the intake targets that were not met in 2021 owing to the COVID-19 pandemic – meaning, Quebec is expected to welcome more than 70,000 newcomers in 2022.
Quebec also introduced a number of measures for temporary skilled workers.
Up from 10%, Quebec’s workplaces can now support staff of up to 20% temporary workers. Also, occupations listed under National Occupational Classification (NOC) skill level C will now be included in the Traitement Simplifié, (facilitated processing). This process promises to bring employers more flexibility under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP).
According to the Institut du Québec’s report, immigrants have high instances of employment in Quebec. Landed immigrants who have been in Canada for less than 5 years have resulted in strong employment recovery. The employment rate for these newcomers was at 76% in 2021 as compared to 64% for the same period in 2019. At the end of 2021, the overall immigrant employment rate was 83%—up from 78% in 2019.
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