Labour & Employment Policy
BC’s changing demographics and shifting employment opportunities present key challenges for employers, such as how to find enough skilled workers, how to adjust to a more diverse and aging workforce and how to comply with workplace regulations. The Council encourages rigorous analysis and proactive policies to address labour issues in advance of marketplace challenges. The Council also promotes effective relationships between employers and employees by providing information to its members on important labour issues and advising government on policies that affect the workplace.
Labour Market Adaptation in the Age of Automation
As disruptive technologies push the frontiers of automation and encroach on some of the advantages that humans have been thought to possess over machines, the way we work is being transformed.
“I have a master’s degree...but I’m serving sushi.”
Despite hard work and best efforts, the majority of fresh-faced graduates experience a delayed entry into career-oriented jobs, find themselves underemployed—or both. Very rarely are young graduates told what they actually need to be prepared for in the contemporary job market.
Finlayson & Peacock Op-Ed: Business input vital to immigration system’s economic success (Business in Vancouver)
There are currently 4.7 million people living in B.C. Over the past 20 years, our population has risen by 908,000. Back in 1995, the population was growing at an annual rate of 2.8%, based on strong net interprovincial migration, international migration, and a relatively high rate of natural increase (births minus deaths). Now, the population is increasing by 1% annually, which is higher than the Canadian average but slower than in decades past.
In the next 20 years, our population is projected to expand by 1.14 million. Natural population growth dwindles after 2015 and approaches zero by 2030. At that point, B.C.’s population will be rising solely due to net in-migration from other provinces and countries. Of the two sources of in-migrants, international immigration will have a bigger role in determining B.C.’s demographic and economic future. Thus, it is more important than ever that immigration policy is aligned with our economic needs. Unfortunately, based on some initial actions by the Justin Trudeau government, it appears that economic considerations will carry less weight in immigration decisions.
Domo Arigato Mr. Roboto: Automation and the Future of Jobs
The way we work is changing. Many traditional jobs that developed over the last century are at high risk of being automated within the next 10 to 20 years. Some recent research suggests nearly 42% of the Canadian labour force may be affected in this way by 2035. The same percentage, 42%, also applies to the proportion of “tasks” performed today by paid employees that could be automated using existing technologies.
Off to Work: Improving the School-to-Work Transition for Recent University Graduates
Human capital is maximized when a worker’s qualifications and skills match those required by their job. Delayed PSE school-to-work transitions may help to explain Canada’s lacklustre productivity growth.
Linking the Education System with the Changing Nature of Work
The Canadian education system is struggling to keep up-to-date with a dynamic and unsettled economic landscape and the prospect of disruptive transformations in the job market.
Millennial Musings: A Policy Response to an Aging Population
While increased life expectancy is a positive development, it inevitably translates into additional strain on health and social service budgets. As the number of retirees increase, there will be fewer working-age taxpayers to provide the government revenues needed to pay for services. On top of this, a shrinking natural birthrate is also contributing to a more slowly-growing labour force.
Population Growth Varies Widely Across BC
In recent years BC’s population has expanded roughly in line with national population growth. Between 2011 and 2015 the number of BC residents rose at an average annual pace of 1.0%, essentially the same as Canada. Alberta led the way, with the number of people living in that province surging at an average rate of 2.6% over the past four years. Population growth in Saskatchewan (1.5%) and Manitoba (1.2%) also outpaced BC. Population growth rates in BC and Ontario have been virtually identical.
An Update on Union Density in BC
After tracking Canadian density rates for a number of years, overall union density in BC has now moved visibly below the national benchmark.
Projections Point to Balanced Labour Market Conditions in BC
The BC Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training recently released its updated labour market projections.
Labour Mobility an Essential Feature of Canada's Regional Labour Markets
Canada’s labour market is dynamic. People move freely across provincial borders for a mix of reasons, including varying economic and labour market conditions. Given Canada’s vast geography and differing industrial structures across the provinces, the ability of people to migrate to other regions is an essential element of the Canadian “common market.”
Labour Market Conditions Ease in the Prairie Provinces But Tighten in BC
Labour market conditions in Western Canada have changed significantly in the past year or so. Amid the dramatic fall in oil prices and generally soft prices for many other key commodities, the ranks of the unemployed have increased in all three Prairie Provinces in recent quarters. Consistent with a rise in unemployment, the number of job vacancies in each of the three Prairie provinces has dwindled. In BC, however, these labour market metrics have been the reverse: the number of unemployed has remained stable or edged down while job vacancies have climbed.
Labour Demand and Supply in Canada: The Big Picture
Concerns over labour shortages continue to be voiced by some leading employer organizations. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, and the Conference Board are among the groups that have identified shortfalls in the supply of workers as a priority public policy issue. Some individual industry sectors – from trucking to construction, the IT industry, mining, and the electricity sector, among many others – have produced reports that highlight current or projected national-level worker shortages in certain occupations. Such sentiments are also common among employers here in British Columbia.
Business Alert: No Change in WorkSafeBC Average Premiums for 2016
WorkSafeBC recently announced that the average “base premium rate” in 2016 will be unchanged from 2015, continuing the pattern from last year. The average rate charged to employers is being set at $1.70 per $100 of assessed payroll, exactly the same as in 2015.
This should come as welcome news for the employer community, particularly in light of a seeming onslaught of government-mandated and/or policy-driven cost increases in so many other areas (Medical Services Plan premiums, fuel taxes, electricity rates, water rental charges, environmental assessment fees, etc.).
Finlayson Op-Ed: Planning Ahead for Ongoing Change? (PeopleTalk Magazine)
Most people are aware that the population in Canada and other western countries is aging, that longevity is increasing, and that the front-end of the large baby boom generation has started to retire. Fertility rates have also fallen, which means the future supply of workers will be under additional downward pressure even as the ranks of seniors swell. But how quickly will our population grow, and age, in the next 20 years? Will employers soon face a dramatic shortfall of working-age British Columbians?
Trends in Unionization...in Canada and the Wider World
In many industrial countries the union movement is struggling to adapt to the accelerating pace of economic and technological change and related shifts in business practices, the structure of employment, and demographics. As jobs have migrated from manufacturing, resources and other goods-producing industries toward services, “union density” – the share of the workforce that belongs to a union – has been under downward pressure
Q1 Net Inflow of People to BC from Other Provinces the Strongest in Two Decades
BC’s comparatively healthy economic performance and attractive climate are luring people from other parts of Canada at a rate not seen in many years.
Migration has well established seasonal patterns, so to compare the movement of people over time the data can be seasonally adjusted or one can simply compare first quarter data to first quarter results from prior years. For simplicity, the graphs and analysis below adopt the latter approach and examine Q1 migration flows to BC for the years 1988 through 2015.
Economic Growth and Tighter Labour Markets in BC: Some Implications of the Demographic Shift Ahead
Most people are aware that the population in Canada and other western countries is aging, that longevity is increasing, and that the front‐end of the large baby boom generation has started to retire. Fertility rates have also fallen, which means the future supply of workers will be restricted. But how quickly will the population grow, and age, in the coming decades? Will there be a dramatic shortfall of working‐age people?
This issue of Policy Perspectives briefly reviews current population projections for BC, shining a spotlight on a few key demographic variables. The findings underscore the steady aging of the provincial as well as the national population. It is also clear that immigration plays a significant role in the changing demographic landscape – within a decade, it will be the only source of population growth for both Canada and BC. Immigration can also help temper the pace – but not reverse the reality of – population aging.
Finlayson Op-Ed: Workers’ bargaining power to rise as labour shortages proliferate (Business in Vancouver)
The critical role of skills in a modern economy and the fact that many employers continue to report difficulties in finding qualified personnel raise questions about the future supply of workers. A number of business leaders have voiced alarm about current and/or potential labour shortfalls. Some worry that the overall economy could be de-railed by widespread shortages of workers.
In thinking about this topic, it is useful to begin by considering the larger economic picture and the lessons from past experience. Concerns about labour shortages are not new, tending to wax and wane with the state of the economy. Temporary labour supply-demand imbalances in particular occupations, regions, or industries are not uncommon. But as an empirical matter, serious and persistent shortages of workers have been rare in Canada. The reason is that the emergence of imbalances in parts of the labour market typically leads to institutional, behavioral and policy responses that, over time, serve to eliminate or mitigate the effects of shortfalls in the supply of workers.
Resolving Strikes in Essential Services – The Supreme Court of Canada Weighs In
This edition of Human Capital Law and Policy was guest authored by Delayne Sartison, Q.C., Partner, Roper Greyell.