Madam Chair, committee members, thank you for giving me this opportunity today to present some key observations on the Canadian labour market.
I would like to use my time to focus on the country's labour supply and demand dynamics, and particularly the contribution of immigrants to the recent changes observed in the labour market.
According to different observations on labour supply and demand in Canada, it is clear that labour markets were tighter in 2019. If we look at labour demand, a number of provinces posted record-high job vacancy rates in the first three quarters of 2019. Across the country, several industries, such as health care and accommodation and food services, also posted their highest-ever job vacancy rates last year.
With respect to labour supply, the national participation rates for the core-working-age population, or individuals between 25 and 54 years old, were also at their highest level.
In May 2019, Canada saw its lowest unemployment rate since 1976, when comparable data from the labour force survey became available. Similar records were also observed in Quebec and Nova Scotia.
If we look at recent labour supply and demand dynamics in Canada, there are considerable variations, especially for specific occupations, levels of education and geographic areas.
First, the most recent results of the job vacancy survey show a tightening of the labour market in a number of occupations, such as health care professionals, where the number of unemployed individuals was lower than the number of vacant positions. We have observed similar scenarios at the provincial level as well. For example, there was less than one unemployed person for each vacant position in manufacturing occupations in Quebec and in sales and service occupations in British Columbia.
Second, if we examine the skills sought by employers, the labour market is obviously tighter for workers with lower levels of education. For example, in the third quarter of 2019 in British Columbia, there was less than one unemployed person with a high school diploma or lower for every vacant position requiring a similar level of education.
Lastly, we have also observed considerable regional differences in the aging of the labour supply. In 2009, just under one in six people in the labour force in Canada were 55 years and older, compared with more than one in five in 2019.
In some regions of the country, particularly northern British Columbia, southern Newfoundland, and Gaspésie, around one in three people in the labour force were over the age of 55. These regions, like most others outside large urban centres, also had some of the lowest retention rates of immigrant tax filers.
Given the aging population in many regions across Canada, immigrants are playing an increasingly important role in the renewal of labour supply.
Over the past five years, the number of Canadian students enrolled in a post-secondary institution has fallen by more than 40,000. Meanwhile, the number of international students has grown by more than 120,000.
Similarly, the most recent population estimates indicate that the numbers of births in Canada is stable and that the number of immigrants has increased.
In 2019, just over one in four individuals in the labour market was born outside Canada. By 2036, this figure could be one in three.
In recent years, most of the annual employment growth was driven by increases observed among landed immigrants.
In 2019, close to two-thirds of the overall employment growth in Canada was led by permanent residents, though they represented roughly a quarter of the working-age population. In particular, among women, three-quarters of the employment growth in 2019 was driven by permanent residents.
In some provinces, such as Alberta and Manitoba, permanent residents were responsible for all the employment growth observed in 2019. They represented a little less than a quarter of the working-age population in those provinces.
Labour supply and demand variations are one thing, but we are also very aware of the need to shed light on the quality and security offered by those jobs. Quality of employment is one issue we are delving into further at Statistics Canada.
For example, we are working closely with the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, with whom we recently contributed to the development of an international statistical framework for measuring employment quality.
Quality of employment comprises various dimensions, including job security, decent wages and the right to work without discrimination.
One aspect of job security is the extent to which jobs are permanent or temporary. In 2019, recent landed immigrants were less likely to have a permanent job than their Canadian-born counterparts. Conversely, landed immigrants who had been in Canada for more than 10 years were more likely to have a permanent job than individuals born in Canada. This was observed among both men and women.
These results highlight the importance of looking at the entire employment trajectory when examining employment quality.
Another aspect of job security is the unionization rate. For example, landed immigrants, especially those who arrived in the country recently, had much lower unionization rates than Canadian-born individuals, both among women and men.
Statistics Canada is working closely with a number of provincial, federal and international partners, including Employment and Social Development Canada, or ESDC, and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, or IRCC, to enhance, refine and standardize employment quality indicators and get a better understanding of the employment trajectory.
Thanks to information from the longitudinal immigration database, which was developed in partnership with IRCC, we can analyze the employment trajectory of immigrants to better understand their labour market reality.
Finally, I'd like to mention some of Statistics Canada's recent initiatives to enhance the information available on the labour market. First, we understand that communities throughout the country, from large urban centres to rural areas, need reliable, timely information on the labour market.
We are currently exploring innovative statistical methods to provide more labour market information to more communities across Canada. We are also working closely with our colleagues at IRCC to refine labour market information on immigrants, using administrative data, for example.
We are also evaluating the possibility of producing reliable, timely data on the labour market status of immigrants based on their immigrant category. Third, together with ESDC, we recently made administrative data on temporary foreign workers available to our researchers. This information on labour demand enriches the information on the labour supply of temporary foreign workers. These data will help our researchers analyze the employment situation of these workers in the context of a tighter labour market.
That concludes my presentation, Madam Chair.
I hope that this brief overview of Canada's recent labour market supply and demand dynamics will be useful to the committee.
I would be more than happy to answer your questions.