Month: July 2019

With record low unemployment rates, labour shortages are being widely felt across Canada, impacting businesses in multiple sectors and escalating competition for workers. Programming designed to attract workers to a specific industry unrelated to tourism may appear to offer solutions only to other employers, but details within these programs can also benefit tourism businesses desperate for staff.

While designed to address labour shortages in agriculture and agri-food businesses, the recently announced three-year federal Agri-Food Immigration Pilot Program is expected to attract close to 16,000 applicants—and their families.

Much like tourism, food processing businesses are located right across Canada, in urban and rural locations. Much like tourism, Food Processing Skills Canada reports that these businesses are having difficulty attracting and retaining staff, particularly in smaller or rural communities. So when a processor in Kings County, Nova Scotia, or Levis, Quebec, or Brooks, Alberta, is able to employ a newcomer to Canada and offer them a pathway to permanent residency, the hotel, restaurant, or attraction down the road is afforded a chance to connect with a spouse or teenage dependant seeking work opportunities.

Meat Processors Across Canada
Meat Processors Across Canada (Source: Food Processing Skills Canada)

Newcomers are much more likely to stay in a community where they are able to quickly and easily establish ties and feel welcomed and supported by locals. To secure new staff, tourism employers may wish to collaborate on a cross-sectoral attraction and retention plan, whether this is by one employer reaching out to another or by building a wider, community-based initiative. All parties stand to benefit from a collaborative effort across businesses:

  • Multiple employers attract much-needed staff
  • The family settles in more quickly and gains additional financial and community support
  • The local tourism sector gains cross-cultural knowledge and possibly new language skills
  • The community is more likely to see the family establish roots, rather than losing them to a large urban centre
  • Employers are more likely to retain the workers over the long-term
  • The newcomers may encourage extended family and friends struggling to settle elsewhere to consider moving to the community, thus attracting additional labour

Looking to connect? The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has a list of federally registered meat establishments and their licensed operators.

Tourism employers may also want to explore other recently announced pilots that provide workers with the opportunity to bring their family members, such as the Home Child Care Provider Pilot and the Home Support Worker Pilot.

(seasonally unadjusted)

In June 2019, the unemployment rate1 in the tourism sector was at 4.8%, which is 0.3 percentage points higher than the rate reported in June 2018, but lower than the previous month (May 2019), when the unemployment rate stood at 5.4%.

At 4.8%, tourism’s unemployment rate was below Canada’s seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate of 5.2%.

The Accommodations, Food & Beverage Services, and Recreation & Entertainment industry groups reported higher unemployment rates than the same month last year (Table 1).

On a provincial basis, tourism unemployment rates ranged from 2.5% in British Columbia to 7.1% in Newfoundland and Labrador.

The seasonally unadjusted unemployment rates for tourism in each province, with the exception of Prince Edward Island and Quebec, were below the rates reported for the provincial economy (Figure 1).

Tourism employment comprised 11.3% of the total Canadian labour force for the month of June.

Table 1 – Employment Rate by Tourism Industry Group – June 2018/2019
Tourism Industry Group2 Unemployment Rate –
June 2018
Unemployment Rate –
June 2019
Tourism 4.5% 4.8%
Accommodations 5.0% 5.9%
Food and Beverage 4.8% 5.2%
Recreation and Entertainment 6.2% 6.5%
Transportation 2.1% 1.4%
Travel Services N/A N/A
Figure 1 – Tourism Sector vs. Total Labour Force Unemployment Rates by Province (Seasonally Unadjusted)

1 To determine unemployment rates, industrial (NAICS) classifications are based on the most recent job held within the past year, and are self-identified by the respondent. Unemployed persons are those who, during the reference period, were available for work but were on temporary layoff, were without work, or were to start a new job within four weeks.

2 As defined by the Canadian Tourism Satellite Account. The NAICS industries included in the tourism sector are those that would cease to exist or operate at a significantly reduced level of activity as a direct result of an absence of tourism. Source: Statistics Canada Labour Force Survey, customized tabulations. Based on data for the week ending June 15, 2019.