Canada sees great opportunities for economic immigrants but headaches for business owners from the unprecedented wave of baby boomer retirements from the labor market.
“The working-age population (people aged 15 to 64) has never been this old,” says Statistics Canada.
“More than one in five people, 21.8 percent, in this population is close to retirement, ie aged 55 to 64. This proportion represents an all-time high in Canadian census history.”
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In the five years to 2021, the number of seniors over 65 in Canada increased by 18.3 percent to seven million.
“This is the second largest increase in 75 years, after the (20 percent) increase observed from 2011 to 2016,” says Statistics Canada.
Employers, striving to fill positions vacated by retiring workers, are raising wages in a desperate attempt to outbid each other for the limited labor supply.
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“The median weekly nonfarm payroll in Canada in June 2022 rose 3.5 percent year-on-year to $1,159.01, beating the 2.5 percent increase in May,” the website reads Trading Economics.
“It was the thirteenth straight month of average weekly earnings growth, led by manufacturing, where wages rose 6.1 percent to $1,437), mainly in manufacturing, which saw wages rise 6.9 percent increased to $1,273.
“Services also posted gains of 3 percent to $1,102, driven by the professional, scientific and technical services sector, where wages rose 10.8 percent to $1,657.”
Canada’s working-age population has never been older.
“The aging of many baby boomer cohorts, the youngest of whom are now between 56 and 64 years old, is accelerating population aging,” says Statistics Canada.
“There are challenges associated with an older workforce, including knowledge transfer, retention of experienced employees and workforce renewal.”
The wave of retirements has grown by a third this year alone
As of August of this year, around 307,000 Canadians had retired that year. That’s nearly a third, up 31.8 percent year-on-year and 12.5 percent up from August 2019, the last full year before the pandemic, Statistics Canada figures show.
Labor shortages in Canada have reached a critical point in some industries.
Nurses are among the most sought-after workers in the country. In his Job offer and wage surveyStatistics Canada reported earlier this year that there were 23,620 nursing job vacancies in the first quarter of 2022.
“At the beginning of 2022, nursing job vacancies more than tripled, up 219.8 percent from five years earlier, showing how longer-term trends can contribute to the current challenges facing hospitals and other healthcare employers. “
Statistics Canada found that 11.2 percent of nurses who had a job in July were sick for at least part of a week.
“One of the ways hospitals and clinics can respond to absenteeism and unmet labor needs is by using more staff to work overtime. In July 2022, the proportion of nurses working paid overtime was the highest for the month of July since comparable data became available in 1997,” noted Statistics Canada.
More than one in five nurses worked overtime in July just to keep hospitals running. In many cases, emergency rooms or other services in hospitals have had to accept reduced opening hours due to a shortage of nurses.
Truckers and nurses are in high demand as retired workers shrink the labor pool
Cathryn Hoy, president of the Ontario Nurses’ Association, says the big challenge is finding younger workers to replace retirees.
“It’s a huge problem right now because we’ve had so many people retiring unexpectedly,” she said, citing the pandemic, working conditions and a wage dispute with Canada’s largest province.
Truckers are also in great demand in Canada.
The transportation industry is struggling with this severe labor shortage, both from the pandemic-driven addiction to more goods and retirements.
“More and more drivers are aging and as a result are retiring or considering a different lifestyle,” said Tony Reeder, owner of Trans-Canada College, a trade school that trains truck drivers.
At the same time, demand is booming from trucking companies, many of whom hire learner drivers for on-the-job training and then hire them directly once they’re fully licensed, Reeder said.
Faced with this lack of people to fill positions, companies are increasingly turning to immigration as a solution to their labor shortage problems.
Economic immigration offers hope for foreigners and Canadian employers
Employers looking to hire a foreigner can tap into this international talent and workforce through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) and the International Mobility Program (IMP).
Under normal circumstances, the Global Talent Stream (GTS), part of the (TFWP), can result in Canadian work permits and visa processing within two weeks.
Employers can also invite foreign nationals to fill available positions through the Express Entry system, which accepts immigration applications online.
Applicants who meet the eligibility criteria and have a job offer submit an online profile, known as an Expression of Interest (EOI), to the Express Entry Pool under one of the three federal immigration programs or a participating provincial immigration program.
The candidates’ profiles are then compared using a points-based system called the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS). The highest ranking candidates will be considered for permanent residency ITAs. Those who receive an ITA must quickly complete an application and pay processing fees within 90 days.