MONTREAL, June 18, 2019 /CNW/ - At a time when the unemployment rate is reaching historic lows, employers are struggling to fill vacant positions, and we are facing a tidal wave of technology, one question must be asked: Is the Quebec labour market ready to meet the challenges that await? In its new Diagnostic de la qualité du marché du travail du Québec (in French only) released today, the Institut du Québec (IDQ) offers analytical tools that are better adapted to new concerns and which go well beyond strictly economic issues. The IDQ thus proposes to track a wide range of indicators to measure the labour market's economic performance, as well as to assess its capacity for inclusion, durability and longer-term resiliency.
"The tools we have to analyze the situation are more useful for understanding the past than for preparing for the future," states Mia Homsy, the Director General of the IDQ. "At the speed at which technological change is occurring and the population is aging, we no longer have the luxury of waiting for the storm to pass before studying its impacts. We must look to the future… and do so quickly." It is in this context that BMO approached the IDQ to design a new prospective analytical tool that considers the labour market not only from an economic viewpoint, but from the social and environmental viewpoints as well.
"This innovative tool aims to better determine Quebec's strengths and weaknesses in order to drive medium- and long-term change and engage our society's decision makers, so we can plan more adequately for our collective future," adds Claude Gagnon, president, Quebec Operations, BMO Financial Group.
Will the fair weather last?
- The Quebec labour market is currently experiencing a bright spell. The employment rate in the generally active population (25–54 years old) is particularly high and the number of involuntary part-time workers is constantly decreasing.
- Additionally, wages, the number of well-paid jobs, and workers' purchasing power have also grown in recent years. However, while we can finally see an increase in the number of jobs offering wages that exceed $25 an hour, this progress has merely enabled Quebec to catch up to a certain degree with Ontario.
- The labour market presence of women, young people, immigrants and seasoned workers (60-69 years old) continues to increase.
- These highly encouraging signs show the labour market's great resiliency as it faces an aging population.
- While Quebec women — especially mothers — stand out at the international level for their high labour market presence, Quebec still lags in the employment integration of newly arrived immigrants (those here for five or fewer years) and seasoned workers (those 60–69 years old).
- Moreover, if Quebec does not succeed in enhancing the competitiveness of its labour force, the good results for 2018 risk being a flash in the pan. When it comes to both labour productivity and the unit costs of labour, not only has Quebec performed less well than Ontario, but the gap between the two provinces has increased in recent years.
- Tensions are rising: The pool of potential workers — those aged 15-64 years – has ceased to grow in Quebec. While this group's growth has continued in Montreal, it has been progressively declining elsewhere in Quebec since 2014. This split between Montreal and the rest of the province has manifested itself as labour needs that are highly unequal from one region to another. The Chaudière-Appalaches, Capitale-Nationale and Abitibi-Témiscamingue regions are among those most affected. The tension is also higher in sectors such as health care and the natural and applied sciences.
- With the acceleration of technological changes, education — both initial and continuous — and skills development (especially basic literacy and numeracy) will become increasingly vital to ensure worker resiliency. Despite recent efforts, Quebec still places last among Canadian provinces in high school graduation rates, and the gap with Ontario in the numbers of those with college or university degrees continues to grow.
Serious lack of data and prioritization
While talk at both levels of government is strongly focused on the importance of better employment integration for Indigenous Peoples and those living with disabilities, there is currently little or no reliable information being updated regularly enough to accurately measure any changes. Since employment integration is important to our economy, we feel it is vital to remedy the situation.
The same applies to continuous education: even if governments are investing significant resources, we must admit that the available data are insufficient to draw a clear and convincing picture of the situation. Not only is it difficult to track progress, it is impossible to measure the repercussions.
Finally, establishing priorities has become essential in a context in which the demand for workers exceeds the supply. "For this reason, we believe it is vital that we target certain sectors or professions that are deemed more strategic for Quebec and to do everything possible to attenuate the harmful impacts of the labour shortage," states Mia Homsy. "Moreover, this reflection must concern both the service offering to the population and economic development," adds Claude Gagnon. But how can we inform the debate when we are facing a serious lack of data and must prioritize needs? While some ministries have documented these issues, there is still little public information available, which limits the scope of any actions undertaken.
To learn more:
- Summary report - Diagnostic de la qualité du marché du travail du Québec (in French only)
- Full report - Diagnostic de la qualité du marché du travail du Québec (in French only)
About the Institut du Québec
A partnership between the Conference Board of Canada and HEC Montréal, the Institut du Québec focuses its research and studies on the socioeconomic issues faced by Québec. It aims to provide public authorities and the private sector with the tools needed to make informed decisions and thereby help build a more dynamic, competitive and prosperous society. http://www.institutduquebec.ca
About BMO Financial Group
Serving customers for more than 200 years and counting, BMO is a highly diversified financial services provider – the 8th largest bank, by assets, in North America. With total assets of $830 billion as of April 30, 2019, and a team of versatile and highly dedicated employees, BMO provides a broad range of personal and commercial banking, wealth management and investment banking products and services to more than 12 million customers. BMO Financial Group conducts business through three operating groups: Personal and Business Banking, BMO Wealth Management and BMO Capital Markets.
SOURCE Institut du Quebec