Evidence of meeting #40 for Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was shortages.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Mervin Wiseman  Chair, Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council
  • Portia MacDonald-Dewhirst  Executive Director, Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council
  • John Sutcliffe  Executive Director, Canadian Council of Professional Fish Harvesters
  • Daniel Kelly  Senior Vice-President, Legislative Affairs, Canadian Federation of Independent Business
  • Mathew Wilson  Vice-President, National Policy, Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters
  • Perrin Beatty  President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Chamber of Commerce

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Joe Daniel Don Valley East, ON

Thank you.

From the fisheries side, do you have any comments on the data you have and on what's available in the industry to clearly identify any skills gaps?

4:10 p.m.

Executive Director, Canadian Council of Professional Fish Harvesters

John Sutcliffe

There are some issues. To be specific, we're currently doing a study, a skills needs assessment, in relation to new training required by regulation. It's not easy to get at the data we need. Transport Canada has certain data around registered vessels. Transport Canada is setting regulations for what different operators we'll need to have in terms of different-sized vessels operating different distances from shoreline, but they don't have information on the particular fishing licences those vessels have, for example. I won't spin this out too much, but then you go to DFO to get that information and the databases don't fit. Consultants that we have working on the problem are exasperated because of the lack of mesh.

That's a relatively small but significant example. In a way, those problems pervade a lot of the labour force information we need, not only with respect to new required training but also industry-identified training and skills needs. That is the core of our mandate and what we do.

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Joe Daniel Don Valley East, ON

As one last question to both of you, why aren't your organizations actually collecting this information yourselves? It seems like you're relying on Stats Canada, on this organization, on that organization....

4:10 p.m.

Executive Director, Canadian Council of Professional Fish Harvesters

John Sutcliffe

If I could quickly reply to that, as I alluded to at the end of my brief opening presentation, we did have access to databases and surveys that provided a really terrific amount of information. In fact the sector study that I distributed is a widely sourced document by provincial and federal government agencies with an interest in human resource issues in the sector, as it is with academics. The requests are frequent for getting the updated information. What's important is using the samples and the data that we were able to collect to identify the trend, to be able to use the same samples and access the same databases, which apparently is no longer possible.

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Ed Komarnicki

Your time is up.

Portia, do you wish to comment on that?

4:15 p.m.

Executive Director, Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council

Portia MacDonald-Dewhirst

I'd like to echo the comment of my colleague John, that the councils are in the business of ensuring accurate information about their labour in order to support the industry. Like John's council, we have also conducted our own research. But this is about ensuring efficiencies across the system. It's inefficient if Stats Canada is collecting their own information, every province is collecting their own information, and every agency is collecting their own information. We're advocating for a consolidated and considered approach where we can all benefit from that same information.

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Ed Komarnicki

That's fair enough. Thank you for that comment. Your time is up.

We'll move to Mr. Cuzner.

May 28th, 2012 / 4:15 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Thanks very much, and I thank the witnesses for being with us here today.

On things that have come up time and again through the course of the study, most presenters have made reference to mentorships and their positive impacts. I can think of no two sectors.... You know, people who work in your sector grow up in the industry, for the most part. They're mentored. It's intergenerational mentorship. It's a close and almost familial mentorship, but it's essential.

There's one thing I want to ask about the fishery. There was a very powerful statement made by Earle McCurdy in the prelude to the study. Mr. McCurdy talked about the owner-operator policy and fleet separation. He said that the absence of an owner-operator policy has brought the independent fishery sector to the brink of extinction on the Pacific coast. Young people, who are the future of coastal communities, will not be able to enter the fishery. The trend will undermine the economic future of many communities that depend on the owner-operator fishery for a stable source of jobs and investment.

We're talking about mentorship, training, skills, and that kind of stuff. Are we placing them at risk if we compromise the owner-operator policy, do you think?

4:15 p.m.

Executive Director, Canadian Council of Professional Fish Harvesters

John Sutcliffe

I believe so. It's a big and complicated issue, and there are differences between the coasts that may bear comparison for the outcomes we're interested in here. I think your study of 2005 will indicate significant differences between the coasts with respect to opportunity for the traditional form of intergenerational transfer, and the informal learning systems and skills development associated with that. That has clearly broken down on the west coast.

In spite of the more than 40% reduction in the number of people engaged in the fishery now—and this is only anecdotal, as we don't have the recent studies—the anecdotal information is strong that the labour shortage issue is most acute in the B.C. fishery. The absence of the owner-operator fleet separation policy has resulted in certain forms of concentration of fishing rights; absentee owners of fishing privileges; participants in the fishery who don't have that stake in the fishery any more; and higher costs for those who fish in terms of leasing the privileges from those who own them in order to get out there. There are some quite extraordinary stories about the halibut fishery and the cost of leasing fishing rights.

It depresses crew wages. You end up with crews that are not properly credentialed, and some significant emerging safety concerns in those fisheries.

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Cape Breton—Canso, NS

That's a strong statement, seeing that we're losing the almost informal mentorship, or I guess family formal mentorship, or whatever.

Do you want to comment on that?

4:20 p.m.

Executive Director, Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council

Portia MacDonald-Dewhirst

I think it's critical. Knowledge transfer is essential. We're talking about the viability of businesses. Every business in every sector faces this issue. However, it's quite poignant in the agricultural sector, for the reasons you stated. It's a critical risk for the industry at large if they don't invest in doing some knowledge transfer and understand how to best do that. That is the role of this organization, CAHRC. It is to support businesses in that endeavour. It is to take the knowledge out of one person's head and ensure that it is transferred in a meaningful way that ensures the safety and success of individuals as they proceed in their jobs.

4:20 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Cape Breton—Canso, NS

I'd like to ask you about temporary foreign workers and their relationship with seasonal workers. As a sector, and this is just my observation from quite a distance, you guys have really matured. You sort of have that balance between temporary foreign workers and domestic workers. That has really improved over the last maybe eight or ten years.

Sixty-two percent of your employees are seasonal workers. What percentage of those would be temporary foreign workers? Maybe you could share that with me. Just give me a point, and then I'll remember the question I was going to ask.

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Ed Komarnicki

Mr. Cuzner, your time is well up, so maybe you want to formulate your question.

4:20 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Do you have me on fast-forward, Mr. Chairman?

4:20 p.m.

Executive Director, Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council

Portia MacDonald-Dewhirst

Your question can't be answered.