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Evidence of meeting #29 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 engineering.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Tracey Leesti  Director, Labour Statistics, Statistics Canada
Marc Lachance  Assistant Director, Labour Statistics, Statistics Canada
Josée Bégin  Director, Centre for Education Statistics, Statistics Canada
Michael McCracken  Chair and Chief Operating Officer, Informetrica Limited
Marie Carter  Chief Operating Officer, Interim Chief Executive Officer, Engineers Canada
Alana Lavoie  Manager, Government Relations, Engineers Canada

4 p.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes NDP Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Do I still have some time? Okay.

Throughout your presentation you really reinforced what we—our party as well as the labour movement—have been saying: people need living wages, and we need to be able to have employers ensure that if people want to upgrade their education, especially if there's a possibility that the place will be closing down at some point...that's extremely important in order to have better skills or for people to upgrade their skills.

The other thing is that when you're indicating the participation rate, I think it also reinforces the fact that the government stance on the OAS is actually not what it should be. It reinforces again the fact that we shouldn't have to worry about whether or not we can afford the OAS for our seniors.

I just wanted to throw that in there. Again, I'm just wondering if you can talk about the rural aspect and the remote aspects of where the challenges are sometimes.

4 p.m.

Chair and Chief Operating Officer, Informetrica Limited

Michael McCracken

I'll leave aside the OAS issue, because I don't think I mentioned it. It's outside the HR purview.

Now, let me make my comments brief. It's always a problem in rural Canada just getting the jobs there. There are some, with the construction jobs during resource development, etc., but it is tough, and unemployment rates tend to be higher in rural Canada.

Many of these remote areas that we speak of are dominated by aboriginal populations. They may be on reserves. It may be 50% to 60% aboriginal in a population area. That's another area where we need to do a lot, and we need to do it in a concentrated way. The potential is large.

On the practice of what we've been able to accomplish, there are a few good examples, but there are a lot of missed opportunities. It's a challenge, and obviously what you want to do in planning is to think about what it is that brings everyone along. But the policies appropriate for the 90% of people living in urban areas may not be what you want to use for the 10% of people in the rural areas.

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Ed Komarnicki

Thank you, Mr. McCracken.

We will move now to Mr. Daniel.

March 14th, 2012 / 4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Joe Daniel Conservative Don Valley East, ON

Thank you, Chair, and thank you to the witnesses for being here.

My question is to Mr. McCracken.

4:05 p.m.

Chair and Chief Operating Officer, Informetrica Limited

Michael McCracken

You have to ask them questions too.

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Joe Daniel Conservative Don Valley East, ON

I will shortly, so you have to keep your answer brief.

You talked about increasing wages and maximizing payments to employees, which is great. Has your group actually considered what the break point is in terms of competitiveness with the rest of the world?

4:05 p.m.

Chair and Chief Operating Officer, Informetrica Limited

Michael McCracken

Sure. I think most economists would say they expect wages to track productivity growth. That is, you would have a 10% increase in wages if your productivity went up by 10%. Historically that's what it looked like until about 1980 in Canada and the U.S. Since that time a gap has been opening, where productivity has been going up, but wages in real terms have not. That hasn't suddenly adjusted. It's still there, and it's staying high.

It's partly staying high because we've been running a higher unemployment rate than we had historically prior to 1979. It's a question of power, when you get right down to it, and that's how you try to write it. But that's the measure people would use who are worried about competitiveness.

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Joe Daniel Conservative Don Valley East, ON

Have you looked at it from a global competitive basis? How does Canada stack up against this productivity that's going to be exported to the rest of the world?

Please be very brief so I can ask the other person a question.

4:05 p.m.

Chair and Chief Operating Officer, Informetrica Limited

Michael McCracken

If it's a global issue like that, your exchange rate should make your adjustment for you. You shouldn't be trying to do it through your micro policies. You shouldn't do it by screwing one group in your society for the benefit of another. It's why exchange rates exist, and how they work and how they are determined. They should bring about equilibrium on the relative productivity or competitiveness level.

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Joe Daniel Conservative Don Valley East, ON

Thank you.

For the Statistics Canada folks, chart 4 shows us the breakdown by province. Chart 5 shows us the breakdown by skills. Does this apply equally across each of the provinces? Do you have statistics based on the skill sets for each province?

4:05 p.m.

Director, Labour Statistics, Statistics Canada

Tracey Leesti

We do have that. Chart 5 shows the unemployment rate by occupation group across Canada.

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Joe Daniel Conservative Don Valley East, ON

It doesn't apply to each of the provinces directly.

4:05 p.m.

Director, Labour Statistics, Statistics Canada

Tracey Leesti

We do have it by province, but we don't have it with us.

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Joe Daniel Conservative Don Valley East, ON

Can you make it available to us?

4:05 p.m.

Director, Labour Statistics, Statistics Canada

Tracey Leesti

Yes. We can send that to you.

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Joe Daniel Conservative Don Valley East, ON

Chart 8 shows that immigrants are filling a lot of the moderate skilled jobs, even though they are university graduates. Have you considered the reasons for that? For example, is there anything to do with credential recognition in the statistics?

4:05 p.m.

Director, Centre for Education Statistics, Statistics Canada

Josée Bégin

We don't have any data to explain the possible factors on that.

4:05 p.m.

Director, Labour Statistics, Statistics Canada

Tracey Leesti

We did a study a number of years back called the longitudinal survey of immigrants in Canada. There were questions on barriers to employment. Among some of the highest indicated were foreign credential recognition and lack of Canadian work experience. That survey is a couple of years old. I think it was from 2006 or 2008. There hasn't been a more recent replication of that one.

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Joe Daniel Conservative Don Valley East, ON

So there's no easy way to correlate what each province's needs are from the charts you've given us. Is that what we can conclude here?

4:05 p.m.

Director, Labour Statistics, Statistics Canada

Tracey Leesti

In what sense do you mean?

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Joe Daniel Conservative Don Valley East, ON

I mean in terms of where the biggest job vacancies are in Alberta versus Ontario.

4:05 p.m.

Director, Labour Statistics, Statistics Canada

Tracey Leesti

It's a fairly new data source, so we don't have a full year of data or trend data. But we could break down this chart for you by industry.

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Joe Daniel Conservative Don Valley East, ON

A breakdown by skill set is what I was thinking of.

4:10 p.m.

Director, Labour Statistics, Statistics Canada

Tracey Leesti

We don't have it by skill set; we have it by industry.

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Joe Daniel Conservative Don Valley East, ON

Do you also have a breakdown statistically to show by industry what skills are available in each province—in other words, people who are unemployed and have particular industry skills, by province?