Author: Tourism HR Canada

Adapted from Chemistry Consulting

Canada’s tourism sector is now in its tenth-straight year of a lower employment rate than the total Canadian economy. While this news is great for job seekers, it has created significant recruitment challenges for many tourism employers.

One way employers can respond to these challenges and entice workers is to raise awareness of their organization by participating in business and/or employer awards programs.

In the current job market, job seekers are increasingly evaluating potential employers by researching whether a company’s values, culture, and strategic direction align with their own. They are also interested in working for organizations that have a positive profile and are well thought of in the community or sector in which they operate. As such, employers who are having trouble recruiting staff and/or want to better position themselves as an ‘Employer of Choice’ should consider pursuing initiatives that will help them enhance their brand.

One effective way that an organization can enhance their brand is to participate in national, provincial, local, or industry-based business awards programs such as those profiled below. Although participating in these programs involves some time and effort, they can be a great way to share your company’s successes and enhance its exposure to job seekers.

Canadian Employer Awards Programs

A well recognized employer awards program is Canada’s Top 100 Employers. As part of participating in this national program, nominees are required to submit a range of information related to:

  • Physical workplace
  • Work atmosphere & social
  • Health, financial & family benefits
  • Vacation & time off
  • Employee communications
  • Performance management
  • Training & skills development
  • Community involvement

Evaluators compare organizations within a particular field based on the information provided and determine which employers offer the most progressive and forward-thinking working environment. The Globe and Mail publishes a special feature announcing the winners, and the announcement is shared by other media outlets across the country.

Winning or finalist organizations can promote their placement as a top employer to entice job seekers to consider available job opportunities with their organization. As the winner and finalist submissions are made public, this information is also useful to job seekers trying to gain insight into the working environment of an organization.

Other national-level awards programs that employers could consider participating in include, for example, Canada’s Top Employers for Young People, Canada’s Greenest Employers and Canada’s Best Diversity Employers.

Additionally, the evaluation factors associated with Canada’s Top 100 Employers are similar to those used for provincial/territorial programs. As such, it is relatively easy for employers who choose to participate in one of these programs to also participate in another without creating a lot of extra work. Chambers of commerce may also offer local employer recognition or awards programs.

Tourism Employer Awards Programs

An employer can also use sector- or industry-based programs to elevate their organization and employer brand. There are programs specific to tourism and hospitality in many regions across Canada, as well as national awards.

The Tourism Industry Association of Canada and the Hotel Association of Canada both offer annual awards programs that include honouring businesses that excel at developing and implementing innovative HR programs and policies, as well as those for community engagement, environmental leadership, and tourism development.

Looking regionally, industry associations and human resource organizations provide employers with the opportunity to have their commitment to strong HR practices recognized. Examples include the Alberta Hotel and Lodging Association and Tourism Saskatchewan, both of whom offer Employer of Choice programs, and the Tourism Industry Association of BC’s Employees First Award.

Benefits of Participating

Regardless of the awards program in which your organization opts to participate, winner and finalist organizations can promote their awards program standing to elevate the profile of their organization both with job seekers specifically and with target customer groups more generally.

Even when an organization participates in an awards program but isn’t a winner or finalist, the results can be used to the organization’s benefit, as management can review the award nomination information of their competitors to see, for example, what other employers are offering in the way of vacation time, benefits, and a variety of other perks. In turn, this information can be used to determine if the packages offered by their organization are appealing to job seekers or if adjustments are needed to improve their position as an ‘Employer of Choice’.

Given current low unemployment rates and strong competition for good workers, participating in relevant awards programs is one way that an employer can demonstrate that they provide a good working environment and create a positive public profile for their organization that appeals to job seekers. Employers should not hesitate to publicize their position as an award finalist or winner to raise their profile as a great place to work. In this instance, there’s nothing wrong with an employer ‘tooting their own horn’.

To receive the latest on tourism labour market trends, issues, and solutions, subscribe to Tourism HR Insider.

TIAC LogoThe Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC) has launched a student contest to showcase the next generation of tourism leaders. Tourism and hospitality students are asked to share what they think the future of our industry will look like.

Through quick and creative presentations, students are asked to address topics at the heart of TIAC’s advocacy mission.

Students, as an individual or as a team of two, are asked to submit a three-minute video and a one-pager of information on their choice of one of three pre-chosen topics:

  • Sustainability
  • Labour
  • Technology

The winning student(s) will be given the opportunity to give an eight-minute TED Talk presentation at Tourism Congress, held in Ottawa November 19-20, 2019, and present their findings to over 300 tourism leaders.

This is an amazing initiative to nurture the upcoming generation of tourism practitioners and leaders. Be sure to share this opportunity with any tourism students and/or school faculties in your networks.

Click here for full contest details.

To receive the latest on tourism labour market trends, issues, and solutions, subscribe to Tourism HR Insider.

(seasonally unadjusted)

In March 2019, the unemployment rate1 in the tourism sector was at 6.0%, which is 0.4% lower than the rate reported in March 2018, and higher than the previous month (February 2019), when the unemployment rate stood at 4.9%.

At 6.0%, tourism’s unemployment rate was below Canada’s seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate of 6.2%.

With the exception of the Food & Beverage Services industry, all tourism industry groups reported lower unemployment rates than the same month last year (Table 1).

On a provincial basis, tourism unemployment rates ranged from 3.2% in British Columbia to 13.6% in Prince Edward Island.

The seasonally unadjusted unemployment rates for tourism in Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, Alberta, and British Columbia were below the rates reported for the provincial economy (Figure 1).

Tourism employment comprised 10.9% of the total Canadian labour force for the month of March.

To receive the latest on tourism labour market trends, issues, and solutions, subscribe to Tourism HR Insider.


Table 1 – Employment Rate by Tourism Industry Group – March  2018/2019
Tourism Industry Group2 Unemployment Rate –
March 2018
Unemployment Rate –
March 2019
Tourism 6.4% 6.0%
Accommodations 11.3% 8.4%
Food and Beverage 5.4% 6.2%
Recreation and Entertainment 8.8% 7.7%
Transportation 3.6% 2.8%
Travel Services 6.0% 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 March 16, 2019.


Image of Hotel RoomRecent headlines and advocacy efforts have raised public awareness of the issue of human trafficking in Canada. These much-needed messages are shining a light on a problem that is more pervasive than most would realize. Statistics Canada states there were 1,099 police-reported incidents involving a human trafficking offence between 2009 and 2016, and that the yearly number is escalating. Globally, it is a billion-dollar criminal network whose victims are primarily women and children, and whose perpetrators could be their family and friends.

Described as modern-day slavery, victims are exploited for labour or sexual services. They are generally deprived of identifying documents and financial resources, suffer from physical and emotional abuse, and are cut-off from outside contact. There are cases where victims continue with aspects of daily life, but they have been intimidated or blackmailed into not reporting they are a victim.

According to the December 2018 Report of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, Moving Forward in the Fight Against Human Trafficking in Canada, the vast majority of human trafficking victims were women (95%), 72% of whom were under the age of 25, and 26% under the age of 18. Most offenders were male (81%), and 80% of those accused of a human trafficking offence were aged 18 to 34.

Tourism and hospitality industries are extremely well placed to notice and report incidents of trafficking. Many victims are confined and exploited at hotels, motels, and Airbnbs. They are often transported by taxi and ride-sharing drivers, but flight attendants and bus, train, and airline agents may also be able to spot victims. Large-scale events often attract traffickers hoping to capitalize on increased visitation. Labour trafficking victims may be forced to work at a range of tourism establishments, from janitorial services at a ski resort to a dishwasher at a restaurant.

The following are some warning signs of human trafficking:

  • No control of money, cell phone, or ID
  • Restricted or controlled communications
  • No knowledge of current or past whereabouts
  • Signs of poor hygiene, malnourishment, or fatigue
  • No freedom of movement, constantly monitored
  • Exhibits fearful, nervous, anxious, or submissive demeanor

(Source: The Polaris Project)

The tourism sector as a whole has begun raising awareness and taking action. Events professionals are joining with law enforcement and support organizations to disrupt human trafficking activities. An increasing number of hotels are training staff on how to spot and react to human trafficking incidents. Industry events are featuring sessions on the topic, pointing delegates to resources and practices they can implement at their workplaces.

What are some measures employers can take?

  • Create workplace policies and procedures on how to manage cases of human trafficking.
  • Train all staff on what human trafficking is, warning signs to look for, and how to safely intervene.
  • Display and distribute current resources on organizations to contact for more information.
  • Attend events that promote industry awareness of human trafficking and encourage others to attend.
  • Establish partnerships with local organizations and law enforcement.
  • Join ECPAT-USA’s Tourism Child-Protection Code of Conduct.
  • Thoroughly vet contract employment agencies and build relationships with workers on site.

Recent media coverage:

Hotel chains training staff to spot victims of human trafficking in their midst

Hotel training tackles human trafficking in Peterborough

Hotel staff can stop Windsor from being a human trafficking hotbed, advocates say

When Human Trafficking is too close to home

Police in Ontario free 43 Mexicans brought to Canada by alleged human traffickers

Resources to help end human trafficking:

The Canadian Centre to End Human Trafficking

Moving Forward in the Fight Against Human Trafficking in Canada

Human Trafficking – National List of Organizations

Meeting Professionals Against Human Trafficking

ECPAT-USA (American resource)

Polaris: Human Trafficking and the Hotel Industry (American resource)

Strong Cross-Canada Demand for LGBT+ Inclusion Training

LGBT+ Inclusion Training in Kelowna, BC
LGBT+ Inclusion Training in Kelowna, BC (Image Credit: Dean Nelson, @departuresXdean)

As part of the Government of Canada’s commitment to ensuring Canada is an inclusive travel destination, CGLCC, Canada’s LGBT+ Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with Tourism HR Canada, conducted 13 LGBT+ Inclusion Training workshops in the month of March. The training sessions, held from Halifax to Vancouver Island to Yellowknife, were open to any individual in the tourism industry. Each session helped tourism-based businesses learn about LGBT+ inclusion and how to effectively understand, value, and serve LGBT+ customers and employees.

The training consisted of both an online component and a facilitated half-day workshop. The online training focused on LGBT+ inclusion in the workplace, including federal and jurisdictional legislation, and was a precursor to the workshop. The interactive workshop:

  • discussed why safe space is important in the workplace and what it looks like;
  • reviewed the internal and external benefits of LGBT+ inclusive space;
  • introduced new strategies when interacting with LGBT+ employees and customers; and
  • provided an opportunity to put new concepts and learning into practice.

A total of 208 individuals registered for the training. Feedback from the sessions was overwhelmingly positive, with a high level of interest for training coming from other regions across the country.

LGBT Inclusion Training in Kelowna
LGBT+ Inclusion Training in Kelowna, BC (Image Credit: Dean Nelson, @departuresXdean)

In addition to the inclusion training, Tourism HR Canada and CGLCC had the opportunity to promote Canada as an LGBT+ travel destination at ITB, the world’s leading travel trade show. Held in Berlin from March 6th to 10th, CGLCC represented Canada with a booth and distributed a newly created promotional piece specifically for the travel trade. CGLCC representatives also conducted a 30-minute presentation to ITB attendees on LGBT+ tourism in Canada.

Tourism HR Canada and CGLCC are currently examining opportunities to expand the work done and further support Canadian tourism-based businesses and destinations become LGBT+ market-ready.

For more information on the training program, please contact


Destination Employment recently marked an exciting milestone, successfully placing its first Destination Employment employee with the Atlantica Hotel Halifax.

The Atlantica has a history of hiring newcomers through the Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia (ISANS) Immigrant Youth Employability Program. This successful hiring of newcomers highlights the property’s welcoming environment, employee support network, and opportunities for advancement—the key attributes Destination Employment is looking for in employers.

Together with the Hotel Association of Canada and the Nova Scotia Tourism Human Resource Council, Tourism HR Canada invites you to take a journey with David Clark, General Manager of the Atlantica Hotel, alongside two employees, Abdoulie Bujang and Amer Sankari, who joined the hotel with a passion for tourism and exceptional guest services.

The three were also recently featured in Canadian Lodging News: Destination Employment comes to Atlantica.

Stay tuned to Tourism HR Insider for more videos highlighting the transformative experiences of Destination Employment participants.

Tourism Labour Market Forum 2019Over 70 tourism stakeholders from across Canada gathered in Ottawa on March 6 and 7, 2019, to examine the skills and labour issues hindering the growth of the sector and strategize on multiple initiatives to strengthen its future.

Hosted by Tourism HR Canada at the Delta Hotels by Marriott Ottawa City Centre, the event is a key part of the organization’s aim to create a more resilient and inclusive labour market. Delegates represented the many groups influencing tourism’s success, including business, education, labour, industry associations, and government.

A complex interplay of key drivers—political, economic, social/cultural—inform the policies and programs that focus on labour supply, skills, or mobility. An aging population, a growing global middle class, soaring interest in Indigenous tourism, misconceptions of tourism employment, housing costs, and immigration are among the many aspects influencing Canada’s tourism sector.

In the past year, the Government of Canada has invested in new programs to help the tourism sector address its labour challenges and support the 1.8 million individuals working in it. Delegates learned about the following initiatives, including opportunities to get involved:

Tourism HR Canada framed the labour crisis, sharing in-depth research and analysis of the labour market. Currently, Canada’s unemployment rate is 5.8%, the lowest since 1976. The tourism sector’s unemployment rate is 4.9%; it has been consistently lower than the total Canadian economy since 2009. Just under 100,000 tourism jobs went unfilled between 2010 and 2017. Current projections show another 145,000 could go unfilled by 2035. With the increase to Canada’s immigration intakes announced in late 2017, the sector may benefit from as many as 85,000 jobs being filled by newcomers. The remaining labour shortfall, however, still prevents Canada from gaining a much larger share of the global tourism market and increasing its global standing and competitiveness.

Unfilled Jobs in Tourism 2010-2035

Each national association—Tourism Industry Association of Canada, Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada, Hotel Association of Canada, Restaurants Canada, and Destination Canada—reported on the labour market challenges members have voiced, with sobering and salient messages attesting to impacts of a ‘tight labour market’. All talked about difficulties finding workers (from entry-level to the C-suite) and having to reduce services in spite of growing consumer demands.

Employers report that the shortage of workers has many social and economic impacts.

Labour Shortage: Economic and Social Impact

Delegates broke into working groups to address key workforce issues, including:

  • Managing seasonal employment: attraction and retention efforts; a “Seasonal Worker Strategy”; housing shortages
  • Forecasting future skill requirements: essential vs. technical/specialized skills; market readiness; impact of technology
  • Coordinating a career and image campaign: perception vs. reality; campaign elements; target messaging for job seekers, influencers, and policy makers
  • Optimizing existing programs and resources: increasing collaboration between business and community organizations to address labour matters; what’s underused and what’s missing

Each group shared their experiences and offered innovative ideas to build solutions to these and other labour market matters. Tourism HR Canada will incorporate their expertise and feedback into strategies and programs to support the sector—core to its role as Canada’s authority on the tourism labour market.

The next Tourism Labour Market Forum will take place March 4-5, 2020, in Ottawa. Subscribe to Tourism HR Insider to keep informed on this year’s outcomes and next year’s plans.


Destination Employment Advisory Committee MeetingThe Destination Employment Advisory Committee held its inaugural meeting at last week’s Tourism Labour Market Forum, at the Delta Hotels by Marriott Ottawa City Centre. Over twenty individuals from hotels, destination marketing organizations, serving agencies, and government shared their expertise and experience on connecting newcomers to Canada with employers.

Announced in 2018, the three-year Destination Employment program is helping newcomers gain meaningful employment in Canadian hotels, giving them the experience they need to build a successful future in Canada. Hoteliers, faced with a growing labour shortage, have the opportunity to fill existing vacancies and receive support and resources to integrate newcomers into their workplaces. The pilot program launched in five regions across Canada, with a goal of expanding to other areas and other industries.

For many committee members, this was their first in-person meeting with each other as well as Tourism HR Canada staff and delivery partners. The group discussed the delivery of the project, offering feedback on the initial programming already underway.

As each region has its own labour market profile and challenges, Destination Employment can be tailored to best accommodate area needs. Delivery partners gave an overview of their regional specifics, along with their successes and challenges to date. Among the topics addressed:

  • Training innovations and needs
  • Opportunities and messaging
  • Partnership building and industry engagement
  • Employer, mentor, and newcomer participation processes

The engaged group provided important feedback on partners’ experiences and lessons learned. This will help in designing and implementing appropriate solutions as the project enters its second year and looks for opportunities to expand. Of note: to offer engaging messaging on the wide variety of employment opportunities in hotels for a variety of participants, from first-time job seekers to experienced workers. Also key: to provide clear, succinct employer resources to encourage participation and to help all levels of staff connect with program and recognize the many benefits.

With training a core component of Destination Employment, the group discussed planned updates to Emerit’s Workplace Essentials and Canadian Workplace Essentials programs, as well as other training resources, expectations, and delivery methods. Participants focused on flexibility, including online delivery, language level, and specific employer/brand needs. Training developers will incorporate this feedback to ensure the most effective programming possible.

Committee members offered positive feedback on their experience, noting everyone was able to voice ideas, recommendations, and concerns. The last hour offered the opportunity to network and follow up on individual questions.

To learn more about the project or to get involved, please visit the Destination Employment webpage or email

(seasonally unadjusted)

In February 2019, the unemployment rate1 in the tourism sector was at 4.9%, which is 0.7% lower than the rate reported in February 2018, and the same as the previous month (January 2019).

At 4.9%, tourism’s unemployment rate was well below Canada’s seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate of 6.1%.

All tourism industry groups reported lower unemployment rates than the same month last year (Table 1).

On a provincial basis, tourism unemployment rates ranged from 2.8% in Alberta to 13.4% in Prince Edward Island.

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 11.0% of the total Canadian labour force for the month of February.

Table 1 – Employment Rate by Tourism Industry Group – February  2018/2019
Tourism Industry Group2 Unemployment Rate –
February 2018
Unemployment Rate –
February 2019
Tourism 5.6% 4.9%
Accommodations 9.9% 7.5%
Food and Beverage 5.4% 4.8%
Recreation and Entertainment 7.4% 7.3%
Transportation 1.9% 1.7%
Travel Services 4.5% 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 February 16, 2019.


A strong turnout and inspiring, timely discussions made for another successful annual Hotel Association of Canada (HAC) Conference. Held February 27 and 28 in Toronto, the conference theme “One Industry. One Voice.” reflected an industry that is banding together in the face of a rapidly growing tourism economy and complex challenges, from disruptors like the sharing economy to the ongoing labour shortage.

With labour challenges being a key concern for many hoteliers, Tourism HR Canada partook in two sessions at this year’s event. Delegates learned about current and upcoming research on critical labour issues and provided vital feedback to ensure two of our major initiatives, the Future Skills Framework (below) and Destination Employment (click here), reflect the needs of a variety of stakeholders, from employers to job seekers and from education to government.

Redressing Skills and Labour Mismatches

Future Skills Framework LogoIn an interactive breakout session titled Defining the Future of Tourism Skills, Calum MacDonald, Tourism HR Canada Vice President, Labour Market Intelligence, led a discussion on labour market research, the changing nature of work, and the Future Skills Framework project.

He noted Canadians’ growing focus on the economic importance of tourism and the key role of the hotel industry in supporting tourism’s growth. Hotels are obviously essential to the expanding demand of overnight international travellers, and recent research shows:

  • International overnight tourists stay longer and spend more
  • U.S. overnight travellers spend an average $470 per trip, of which 40% is on accommodation
  • Non-U.S. overnight travellers spend an average $1,650 per trip, of which 35% is on accommodation

He also elaborated on the labour shortages impacting tourism employers; these are expected to worsen and could be further exacerbated if skills mismatches and employment gaps are not addressed.

This led to introducing the Future Skills Framework project—a competency framework for the tourism sector that looks to redress skills and labour mismatches. The framework will not just embody current practice, but also describe what skills will be needed to perform effectively in the future. Covering all five industries in tourism (accommodations, food and beverage services, recreation and entertainment, transportation, and travel services), it will provide interactive resources to:

  • Assist job seekers, employers, educators, and governments to better understand the skills and competencies employers are looking for
  • Help job seekers in identifying the skills they have and how they relate to specific employment opportunities

To identify existing skills gaps among both new frontline workers and experienced supervisors and managers, delegates completed a survey.

For essential social employability competencies—the skills that people need for work, learning, and life—employers pinpointed:

  • Managing stress/resiliency
  • Problem solving and thinking skills
  • Listening skills

For hotel supervisors and managers, employers identified these areas as most in need of upgrading:

  • HR skills: train personnel, establish a human resource plan, and manage employee performance
  • Business management skills: develop a business plan and manage a business continuity crisis
  • Administrative skills: administer financial controls and procedures and maintain accounting records system
  • Risk management skills: develop and comply with a risk management plan
  • Marketing skills: monitor marketing activities and manage marketing materials

Agree? Disagree? We want to hear from tourism stakeholders across the country. The Future Skills team will be hosting events throughout this year. To register for a session near you, please email or visit the project webpage.