What will the labour market of tomorrow look like in Quebec?
Apr 19, 2019

The Quebec labour market is changing

-  The unemployment rate is lower than the Canadian average for the first time (5.5%) and the employment rate for 25-54 year-olds is at an all-time high (85.5%)

-  The unemployment rate is below what we thought was full employment

-  No jobs were created between December 2017 and December 2018

-  More than 100,000 job openings


Economists agree that “these phenomena are indications of a tightening labour market.” According to estimates, this new reality will persists until 2030.


This situation is less the result of a healthy economy than it is an aging population; the amount of Quebecers aged 15-64, i.e. those of working age, will stagnate or decrease depending on the region, which means there will be fewer young workers to replace those who retire.


Growing the pool of potential workers: solutions are underway

Retaining experienced workers

Among the possible solutions to counter this “tightening” of the labour market, the first that comes to mind is retaining experienced workers by raising the retirement age and through various other methods. In Quebec, the employment rate for 60-69 year-olds is 34%, while it is 40% in the rest of Canada, so there is enough wiggle room to possibly take advantage of this potential workforce.


“It’s important for companies to understand that they have to do whatever they can to retain the manpower they have,” said Pierre Fortin, Professor Emeritus at the Université du Québec à Montréal, “by investing in training, for instance, or increasing salaries.”


Immigration: the last resort for consolidating the labour market?

Not only does Canada have a long tradition of welcoming newcomers, but our point system allows us to attract the immigrants most likely to meet the country’s economic needs. Is this the ideal situation to benefit from qualified workers who are motivated, ready and willing to take on the task?


According to calculations by the Conference Board of Canada, between 2018 and 2022, Quebec will need to welcome 43,000 more people than the 40,000 envisaged by current policies to reach similar GDP growth expected in the rest of Canada.


For Simon Gaudreault, an economist at the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), it is essential to ensure immigrant skills are compatible with those required by companies, notably by better adapting the selection grid.


As well, three-quarters of immigrants move to the Montreal metropolitan area, while the need for manpower is higher in outlying regions. Initiatives must be implemented to attract immigrants to these regions. Gaspésie is a good example of this; see the testimony below.

Lastly, in order for immigration to be a decisive factor for growth, the Institut du Québec has determined three conditions to try and achieve:

-  Recognize immigrant diplomas at their fair value to optimize their integration in the labour market

-  Enable immigrants to actively participate in the economy thanks to government initiatives that promote their economic and social integration

-  Build confidence in immigration; in order for “social acceptability” to happen, immigrants must significantly contribute to Quebec’s economy


Other populations looking for work

We talk a great deal about immigration, but there are other populations close to us where unemployment among men and women is commonplace.


In indigenous communities, the unemployment rate is 42% and those under 25 years of age represent 55% of the population. This represents an opportunity that should be utilized much more systematically.


Disabled persons and social assistance clients also represent a beneficial avenue. For example, we know that just 45% of disabled persons aged 15-64 years-old are employed, and that their unemployment rate is up to 13%.


A very successful example of integration

Anne-Marie Maignant, originally from Haiti, has lived in Chandler for two years.

“When I arrived in Gaspésie, I received invaluable assistance from the regional county municipality (RCM). They helped me to find a place to live and a school for my children, and facilitated our integration."

“There is a welcome committee that organizes meet-ups between new immigrants, outings and inter-cultural dinners where each participant presents their culture."

“We were warmly welcomed; people were very friendly, and I didn’t feel that I was different."

“I’ve never felt racism here, whereas in the city I felt the difference more: the Blacks stay among themselves, and we’re judged more. In Gaspésie, this doesn’t exist. Or else, I’ve never experienced it.”


Source: Le Soleil, Labour Shortage: Beyond Immigration, Sept. 2018 / Institut du Québec, The Aging Population and the Quebec Economy, Nov. 2017 / Institut du Québec, Quebec Employment Overview, Jan. 2019 / Ici-Radio-Canada, The Labour Shortage Explained, Sept. 2018 / Institut de la statistique du Québec, Portrait of Job Vacancies in Quebec, Nov. 2018 / Entreprises Québec / Individual Interview as Part of a Mandate for the Gaspésie Region, Jan. 2019.