Author: Tourism HR Canada

2021 is the start of a long recovery for the tourism industry, and it will be hampered by a shortfall of workers.

The sector has faced a very difficult year and the long road to recovery will continue to be difficult to navigate. 2021 looks promising, filled with renewed hope and optimism especially now that vaccines are available. Government relief programs have been a true lifeline for many businesses. The reliance on these programs and the need for additional supports—including those tied to the workforce—will be especially important for recovery.

The federal government announced sector-specific support measures in the Fall Economic Statement (presented on November 30), and we are anticipating additional measures along with a new Tourism Recovery Strategy. Provincial and national tourism associations continue to be responsive as they recalibrate recovery strategies and anticipate further programs to help tourism businesses remain solvent and, increasingly, to help businesses evolve and learn to thrive in a new economic reality. Tourism HR Canada’s focus has been on the workforce and what’s needed to help develop a dynamic, inclusive, and resilient workforce.

Tourism HR Canada has been looking closely at the impacts of COVID on the workforce, and the fallout on GDP and consumer confidence. Our other research is focused on labour projections based on COVID recovery scenarios. The data is informing new recommendations on policies and programs to help the sector restart its workforce, captured in four themes: Skills, Supply, Sentiment, and Strategy.

Investments in skills are essential. Businesses must optimize their workforce by ensuring workers are versatile and adaptable to a range of work contexts, equipped with transferable skills and new skills that enable businesses to transform their business and operational models. In 2021, Tourism HR Canada will be expanding its online free training for businesses, along with additional resources and tools to help owners or operators tackle new operational challenges. Industry is asking for assistance with product development, business innovation, use and integration of new technology (operational/staff, consumer support, social media), strategies for business stability and risk management, and much more.

Tourism is facing staggering employment losses that far exceed the overall economy, and projections suggest that these losses will hamper the ability of the sector to rebound and recover from COVID.

The shortfall of workers will be a great challenge. New strategies and government support will be needed to help strengthen worker retention strategies. In addition to continued wage subsidies that help hold on to workers, the sector must focus on recalling furloughed workers and seeking to attract new workers. Although it may seem premature to start expanding on the supply of workers while many businesses remain shuttered or at reduced capacity, the sector must have ready, skilled workers that can quickly be deployed to help it respond to market demands. The longer the delay in rebuilding the supply of qualified workers, the more difficult and increasingly competitive it will be to attract workers. A shortfall of workers impacts the ability of businesses to meet visitor demand, both in terms of capacity and quality of services.

Research is also indicating that consumer/public and worker sentiment is waning. Tourism employment is viewed as precarious, risky, and unsafe. Increasingly, communities are skeptical of tourists and uncertain if the economic and social benefits of tourism outweigh the risks. In 2021, Tourism HR Canada continues to seek funding to help businesses demonstrate good practices that will also increase consumer/public confidence, as well as investments in an employment campaign to promote careers in tourism.

Workforce recovery is also tied closely to strengthened coordination that brings together all stakeholders and optimizes the use of resources. Tourism HR Canada is committed to providing the most comprehensive and current labour market intelligence to inform investments in recovery strategies, workforce programs (e.g., training, retention, attraction), and public policy.

Join us this Friday, January 15, at 2 PM Eastern for a webinar exploring the most up-to-date data on workforce trends, what to anticipate for labour challenges over the next year, and recommendations on policies and programs to help the sector restart its workforce.

We have a lot planned for this year and we’re all going to have work especially hard at tackling the difficult recovery efforts, but it will all be worthwhile.

Wishing you all a very happy, healthy, and prosperous new year.

Philip Signature

Philip Mondor, President and CEO

Tourism HR Canada

Tourism HR Canada has been tracking the impacts of COVID on the tourism workforce, and the fallout on GDP and consumer confidence. Other research in collaboration with the Conference Board focuses on labour projections: by sector, by region, and more. Tourism is facing staggering employment losses that far exceed the overall economy, and projections suggest these losses will hamper the sector’s ability to rebound and recover from COVID.

Join us this Friday, January 15, at 2 PM Eastern for Workforce Shortfall, our first webinar of 2021. We’ll explore the most up-to-date data on workforce trends, what to anticipate for labour challenges over the next year, and recommendations on policies and programs to help the sector restart its workforce. The session will be one hour in duration.

To see our previous ‘state of the workforce’ update, please visit our YouTube channel.

Click here to register for the Workforce Shortfall (And What It Takes to Restart Canada’s Tourism Workforce) webinar.

Nearly 90% of Year-Over-Year Employment Losses in Tourism

Tourism employment decreased for the third month in a row in December, falling by 56,700, a 3.5% decrease from November. (Data is from the week of December 6 to 12.)

Tourism employment decreased in all provinces except in Quebec, where employment essentially flat, increasing by a miniscule 200 (or 0.1%), and in New Brunswick (1,600). The biggest drops occurred in Alberta (-18,400), Ontario (-17,500), and Nova Scotia (-9,700). Nova Scotia’s decrease is notable as it is a 20.6% decrease in employment relative to November. The decrease is similar in size to the employment drop that occurred in Manitoba this November. Similar drops may be seen in the January data for Ontario and Quebec.

Highlights:

  • Tourism employment declined by 56,700 in December, a decline of 3.5% from November.
  • On a year-over-year basis, seasonally unadjusted employment across all Canadian industries was down 3.1% compared to December 2019. In comparison, tourism employment was down 24.9% from the same month a year ago.
  • The largest monthly drops in employment occurred in Alberta (-18,400), Ontario (-17,500), and Nova Scotia (-9,700).
  • At 14.6%, tourism’s unemployment rate was above Canada’s seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate of 8.0%.
  • December is the fourth month in a row in which the tourism labour force declined.

Please note: To allow comparisons with tourism sector data, which sees significant employment fluctuations over the year, we use seasonally unadjusted data for both tourism employment and overall employment.

Tourism Employment Rate

In December, employment (unadjusted for seasonality) across the entire Canadian economy decreased by 113,900. Overall, tourism employment dropped by 56,700 jobs due to a loss of 40,500 full-time jobs and 16,000 part-time jobs.

From November to December, employment declined in the accommodation (-5.4%), food and beverage services (-3.2%), recreation and entertainment (-5.6%), and transportation (-2.3%) industry groups. Only the travel services industry added employment, although that was caused by a loss of 3,400 full-time jobs being offset by a gain of 6,100 part time jobs.

In December 2020, tourism employed 1,568,300 workers, a quarter fewer than in December 2019, when the sector employed almost 2.1 million people.

In the food and beverage services industry group, employment decreased by 25,100, the largest drop among tourism industry groups. It was closely followed by recreation and entertainment, where employment was down 20,400. In those industries, both full-time and part-time employment decreased.

Despite adding some part-time jobs, overall employment continued to drop in the accommodation industry, which has seen monthly employment declines since August.

Employment in the transportation industry fell 7,300, while employment in the travel services industry increased 2,700, the third month of employment increases in that industry. Despite losing the greatest share of employment during the spring, travel services employment has now almost recovered to March levels.

Because the industry groups that make up tourism are different sizes, looking at the monthly change in employment as a percentage increase or decrease relative to the previous month provides a more equitable picture of how each industry is recovering. It also helps illustrate the size of the employment increase or decrease relative to total employment within a given industry group. Among industry groups, the transportation industry has lost the least employment relative to February 2020, down 17.1%.

In the initial months of the pandemic, the travel services industry lost the greatest percentage of employment. Employment in that industry group dropped even further in August and September, following a mild recovery in June and July. In September, employment in travel services was 50% lower than it had been in February. However, following three months of increases, employment is now only 18.8% lower than at the start of pandemic.

As of December, the accommodation industry has now lost the greatest percentage of employment relative to February. Despite employment gains between May and August, the end of the summer tourism season has resulted in ongoing losses in employment. Occupancy rates in Canada peaked at 42.9% the week ending August 22 and have declined ever since, reaching 23.5% the week ending December 19 and falling below 20% over the Christmas holiday. Accommodation employment is now down 33.1% since the start of the pandemic.

Despite having come close to getting back to February employment levels in August, the recreation and entertainment industry had 27.5% fewer workers in December than it did at the start of the pandemic. Some of the employment losses in recreation are to be expected, however, as seasonal operations such as golf courses close.

The food and beverage services industry group also saw its third month of employment decreases. While this industry usually sheds some employment in the fall, continued losses into November and December this year have greatly exceeded what would normally be expected. Following the pandemic, food and beverage sales peaked at $5.5 billion in August, but then declined to $4.85 billion in October. October sales were $1.76 billion lower than they were one year prior and are expected to drop further in November and December due to tightening restrictions.

On a year-over-year basis, seasonally unadjusted employment across all Canadian industries was down 3.1% compared to December 2019. In comparison, tourism employment was down 24.9% from the same month a year ago. Tourism’s employment decrease currently makes up 87.9% of all year-over-year employment losses. By industry group, year-over-year employment losses in December ranged from -36.5% in accommodations to -15.4% in transportation.

Employment losses due to COVID-19 have not been evenly spread across the economy. Tourism industries employed 10% of Canadian workers before the pandemic, but a much greater share of COVID-19 related employment declines occurred within the sector. Tourism employment losses made up half of year-over-year employment losses in March, as tourism businesses were among the first to be forced to close and to see demand dry up as international borders were closed. In the following two months, many other industries closed or lost demand for their products, and tourism’s share of total employment losses decreased, even as the number of unemployed tourism workers grew.

As restrictions were loosened, the share of year-over-year employment decreases attributable to the tourism sector began to grow once more. While other industries were able to reopen, many tourism businesses remained closed. Once the summer ended, tourism’s share of total year-over-year employment losses ballooned, only falling slightly in December as restrictions once again began to affect industries such as retail.

Most provinces saw a loss of tourism employment in December. The largest drop in employment occurred in Alberta, Ontario, and Nova Scotia. Manitoba also experienced a significant drop considering that it followed a 22.6% drop in employment in November.

In all provinces, tourism employment was well below that seen in December 2019. On a year-over-year basis, the greatest employment losses were in Saskatchewan, Alberta, and Manitoba. Employment was closer to last year’s levels in Atlantic Canada, with the exception of Nova Scotia.

Tourism Unemployment Rate

In December 2020, the unemployment rate in the tourism sector was at 14.6%, which is 10 percentage points higher than the rate reported in December 2019 and higher than the previous month (November 2020), when the unemployment rate stood at 13.9%.

At 14.6%, tourism’s unemployment rate was above Canada’s seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate of 8.0%.

All tourism industry groups have reported higher unemployment rates than the same month last year. In December, the tourism unemployment rate increased due to an increase in the number of unemployed tourism workers and a decrease in the overall tourism labour force. The unemployment rate is calculated by taking the labour force (the total of employed and unemployed individuals) and dividing it by the number of unemployed persons whose last job was in the tourism sector. While the number of employed tourism workers decreased by 56,700 in December, the number of unemployed individuals only rose by 5,600. The tourism labour force decreased by 51,200, indicating that most individuals who had lost their jobs had not yet started seeking other work. This is likely due to COVID-19 restrictions that make seeking new employment difficult.

Unemployment Rate
Tourism Industry Group[1]

December 2019

November 2020

December 2020

Tourism 4.6% 13.9% 14.6%
Accommodations 6.4% 23.6% 27.6%
Food & Beverage Services 4.0% 13.5% 13.6%
Recreation & Entertainment 7.0% 13.3% 16.7%
Transportation 2.7% 10.5% 9.2%
Travel Services 0.0% 19.4% 11.0%

On a provincial basis, tourism unemployment rates ranged from 7.7% in British Columbia to 33.7% in Prince Edward Island. The seasonally unadjusted unemployment rates for tourism in each province, with the exception of Newfoundland and Labrador, were above the rates reported for the provincial economy.

Shrinking Tourism Workforce

Since October, declines in tourism employment have greatly exceeded the sector’s average monthly declines.

Figure 11: Average Monthly Employment Change in Tourism (2001-2019 vs. 2020)

Average Monthly Employment Change 2001 to 2019 Monthly Employment Change 2020
August -0.6% 3.2%
September -5.6% 0.2%
October -0.8% -4.1%
November -1.8% -2.1%
December 0.2% -3.5%

December is the fourth month in a row in which the tourism labour force declined. Some decline is to be expected in September and October, as student workers return to school. Ongoing losses into November and December are more concerning. The fall labour force decline usually slows in November and December. Although the current decline is likely due to unemployed tourism workers not seeking new employment due to labour market conditions, the overall tourism labour market never fully rebounded to 2019 levels.

Total Actual Hours Worked by Sector

Despite December’s drop in employment, the total actual hours worked increased by 3.4% from November to December. Increases in actual hours worked occurred in most sectors, the notable exceptions being agriculture (-11.2%), accommodation and food services (-7.1%), and business, building and other support services (-2.9%).

While the total actual hours worked increased from November to December, Canadians are still working fewer hours than in February. But the story varies by sector. In some industries, employment has increased and Canadians are working more hours than in February. However, those sectors that are still below February levels in terms of employment and hours of work are well below where they were, clearly showing how the economic pain is not evenly spread. The number of actual hours worked in tourism-related sectors continues to be well below normal levels. In December, accommodation and food services employees worked 21.7 million hours, 10 million fewer than they worked in February.

Workers in the information, culture and recreation sector worked slightly more hours than in November, but still worked 2.5 million fewer hours than in February.

Where to From Here?

The past year was nothing short of catastrophic for the tourism industry.

We enter the new year assessing where we are and looking forward.

Secondary lockdowns in response to rising COVID-19 case counts are needed, but are punishing. No clear timetable is yet discernable for a resumption of international travel to Canada, which now seems dependent on how quickly vaccines can be made available, particularly to contain the spread of new, more transmissible strains of the virus.

The current situation is grim and highly volatile. Yet, the availability of vaccines does mean an eventual reopening of local consumption, domestic travel, and ultimately international travel. As a sector, we need to start preparing for that future. It will a brighter day, but it will come with its own challenges.


[1] 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.

Are you an employer in the tourism and hospitality sector? We need your input to help shape the future of our post-pandemic workforce.

As we enter a new year and reflect on the devastating and lasting effect that COVID-19 has had on our industry, it’s now time to look forward to the future resiliency of our workforce. How will the landscape change post-pandemic? How will we attract and retain skilled workers? How will the sector rise above perceived stigma?

Tourism HR Canada, MDB Insights, and OTEC invite you to express your interest in participating in a cross-country focus group to be held in February. Feedback will assist in predicting future challenges faced by the sector and recommendations on how to overcome them.

In order to understand the specific challenges you will face post-pandemic and how we can best support you, we need to hear from employers across the tourism and hospitality spectrum. Employers from all five distinct industry groups within the sector are encouraged to participate: accommodation, food and beverage services, recreation and entertainment, transportation, and travel services.

Register here to be considered for participation in an online focus group for your province (schedule below.) While we will involve as many individuals as possible, we will select a representative sample of the industry from those who register.

Please note, cross-Canada focus groups for current and former tourism employees will be held at a later date. Study results will be presented at Tourism HR Canada’s March Labour Market Forum.


Newfoundland, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island (English)

Date: Thursday, February 4, 2021

Time: 12:30 PM-2:00 PM Eastern (1:30 PM-3:00 PM Atlantic, 2:00 PM-3:30 PM Nfld.)


British Columbia (English)

Date: Thursday, February 4, 2021
Time: 2:00 PM-3:30 PM Eastern (11:00 AM-12:30 PM Pacific)


Ontario, Quebec (English)

Date: Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Time: 12:00 PM-1:30 PM Eastern


Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, Territories (English)

Date: Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Time: 2:00 PM-3:30 PM Eastern (1:00 PM-2:30 PM Central, 12:00 PM-1:30 PM Mountain)


Quebec (French)

Date: Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Time: 3:30 PM-5:00 PM Eastern


For further information, please contact:

Ramon Smits, Tourism HR Canada, info@tourismhr.ca, 613-231-6949 x 258

Shelagh O’Donnell, Director, Marketing Communications, OTEC, info@otec.org, 416-622-1975

Future Skills Framework LogoTourism HR Canada is extremely grateful for all the industry professionals who have shared insights into their occupations over the past few months, enabling us to build new occupational standards using the Future Skills Framework. The framework and these standards will help Canada’s tourism sector align the current and future skills of individuals in the labour market with the changing nature of work across tourism’s industries.

For a number of sessions over the coming month, we invite anyone with experience in the following occupations to join us to set new national standards:

  • Reservation Sales Agent: Thursday, January 21st
  • Food Counter Attendant: Tuesday, January 26th
  • Freshwater Fishing Guide/Hunting Guide: Thursday, January 28th

All sessions will take place from 1:00 PM – 3.30 PM EST on Zoom.

Places are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, so if you are interested, please send your RSVP to info@tourismhr.ca as soon as possible.

Safety, through the freedom to be oneself, is the key factor in Canadian LGBT+ travellers’ destination choice. That’s why the Government of Canada is investing in the National LGBT+ Tourism Project, a set of inclusion workshops and market-ready seminars to support the industry in fostering welcoming destinations across the country.

These free online training events are taking place now through to the end of March.

On top of the workshops and seminars, Tourism HR Canada and CGLCC, Canada’s LGBT+ Chamber of Commerce, have been developing diversity and inclusion support tools to further assist tourism businesses with reaching this market.

This new Toolbox of Resources will be launched and available free of charge to all participants of the National LGBT+ Tourism Project.

There will be a total of ten resources available for download in English and French:

  1. Inclusive Procurement Guide
  2. A Guide for Developing LGBT+ Products and Tours
  3. Trans & Non-Binary Inclusion Guide
  4. Business Case for LGBT+ Inclusion
  5. Hosting LGBT+ Inclusive Events
  6. Developing an LGBT+ Diversity and Inclusion Strategy
  7. Becoming an Ally
  8. Starting an Employee Resource Group
  9. Building Community Engagement
  10. Marketing to an LGBT+ Traveller

These guides are 15+ pages and contain a deeper dive into specific diversity and inclusion topics to help welcome LGBT+ customers, as well as employees. Instructions on how to access these free resources will be sent to all program participants.

If you haven’t yet signed up, please visit the CGLCC’s website to register, or contact tourism@cglcc.ca if you’d like to set up a private workshop/seminar for you and your staff or stakeholders.

Tourism jobs are defined by two numbers and both are from Statistics Canada—so why the two numbers and how is there a difference of over a million jobs?

The first number, 747,950, is based on tourism demand; in other words, it’s based on visitor spending. This number comes from the National Tourism Indicators (NTI), which covers the supply of tourism commodities (a tangible good or service, such as transportation, that can be bought and sold) and the demand for those commodities from foreign and domestic tourists. The NTI measures employment and GDP generated from visitor spending, and was developed to update the Canadian Tourism Satellite Account on a quarterly basis. This includes visitor spending on activities that are not limited to tourism businesses, such as money spent by visitors at gas stations or in retail stores. This number is a good measure of the impact of tourists on employment in the Canadian economy and is used to help determine, for example, whether marketing strategies are effective.

However, most tourism industries also provide goods and services to people who are not tourists. Restaurants and recreation venues such as golf courses and ski hills are part of the tourism sector because about 20% of demand for their products and services comes from visitor spending. Without tourists, these industries would suffer a significant hit to their bottom line. To measure overall employment in tourism industries, we need data that accounts for this.

The second jobs number, 1.9 million, is data from the Tourism Human Resource Module from Statistics Canada, an extension of the Tourism Satellite Account. This includes comprehensive data on the tourism workforce, with information on jobs, hours, earnings, occupations, worker demographics, and more. The information is defined by the five tourism industries: accommodation, food and beverage services, recreation and entertainment, transportation, and travel services.

TL;DR: 1.9 million is the number of jobs in tourism industries, whereas 747,950 is the number of jobs that exist due to visitor spending in all industries.

 

We focus on the 1.9 million number when concerned with workforce issues because:

  • it’s an indication of the overall health or capacity of the sector and its ability to serve tourists (and Canadians);
  • businesses manage and invest in their workers to serve both visitors and locals (i.e., they treat all workers the same); and
  • as tourism recovers and the workforce restarts, this number will be very important, especially with the focus on hyper-local and local markets.

Check out this article to get a more detailed understanding of the three datasets— Census, Tourism Human Resource Module, and Labour Force Survey—that define tourism jobs and employees: Numbers Game: Defining Tourism Employment Stats.

The impact of COVID-19 on our mental health cannot be understated. What began as a sudden, unprecedented disruption has turned to months of uncertainty, stress, change, and isolation.

We are not well equipped to handle long periods of crisis. Our fight-or-flight instinct helps us deal with imminent threats to our safety. When exposed to chronic stress, our system goes into overdrive, leading to long-term exposure to the hormone cortisol. Its effect? Increased inflammation, leading to diverse symptoms such as rashes, stomach aches, and headaches through to depression and loneliness.

While the arrival of a vaccine signals hope for recovery and reopening throughout 2021, we will continue to live in a changed reality for months to come—particularly in tourism. The full resumption of the travel economy in Canada depends not just on the uptake of the vaccine here, but worldwide. We recognize that many jobs have been lost, businesses shuttered, and lives altered. It will take time to get back on our feet. As we do so—and even once we have—it is vital for us to support each other and take care of ourselves as we try to manage the disruption to our lives.

To help with this, we’ve collected a number of resources to understand the mental health implications of the pandemic and offer ways to help process the ongoing stress. Our hope is these will raise awareness of what signs and symptoms to look for in oneself and others, and direct us all to the expert advice and guidance that will help us cope in a healthy, positive way.

First and foremost: if you are in immediate danger, please contact emergency services for your area.

You can also access support workers, social workers, psychologists, and other professionals—confidentially—by texting WELLNESS to:

  • 686868 for youth
  • 741741 for adults

It’s OK not to be OK. The Government of Canada wisely asserts that fear, stress, and worry are normal in a crisis. You might feel like you’re no longer in control of things. It’s normal to feel sad, stressed, confused, scared, or worried. People react in different ways. Some common feelings include:

  • A sense of being socially excluded or judged
  • Concern about your children’s education and well-being
  • Fear of getting sick with COVID-19 or of making others sick
  • Worry about losing your job, not being able to work, or finances
  • Fear of being apart from loved ones due to isolation or physical distancing
  • Helplessness, boredom, loneliness, and depression due to isolation or physical distancing

Find a way to cope that works for you. You may want to get out and run no matter what the weather or try simple stretches in the comfort of your home. You may want to chat on the phone for hours or find five minutes of peace and quiet in a crowded house. Below is some overarching advice to help guide healthy strategies:

  • Stay socially connected, whether it’s video chat, social media, or even snail mail
  • Practise mindfulness, from simple deep breaths to a guided meditation routine
  • Try to eat healthy foods, exercise regularly, and get adequate, restful sleep
  • Limit your use of substances
  • Focus on what you can control
  • Be kind to yourself and others

Seek support—anytime. While some may feel like they need to reach breaking point before seeking professional support, please know that it’s okay to reach out even if you’re just needing another perspective or have questions about healthy behaviours. The sooner you feel supported and understood, the more manageable the stress is. The Mental Health Commission of Canada provides this list of resources:

Anxiety Canada

Bell Lets Talk

Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction

Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA)

Canadian Women’s Foundation

Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)

The Family Institute: Counseling@Northwestern

Health Standards Organization (HSO) and Accreditation Canada

Mood Disorders Society of Canada

Morneau Shepell

Ontario Network of Sexual Assault/Domestic Violence Treatment Centres

The Mental Health Commission of Canada also provides this graph summarizing the mental health continuum model and corresponding actions to take.

The toll of the pandemic on the mental health of Canadians is increasingly alarming. A new study from the Canadian Mental Health Association and the University of British Columbia shows 40% of those surveyed said that their mental health had deteriorated since the COVID-19 outbreak began, a figure that rose to 61% among those with a pre-existing mental-health issue.

In the hard-hit tourism sector, employers are facing the stress of both managing their own mental health and that of their staff amidst increasing restrictions, financial struggles, and uncertainty around when and how the welcome news of a vaccine will affect the reopening of the travel economy…and whether their business can stay afloat until then.

As stated by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, while managers are not—and should not be expected to be—medical experts, they need to be comfortable having discussions about mental health and recognize they will often be the first port of call when a colleague wants to raise an issue.

The Institute recommends employers:

  • Support and guide their managers so that they feel equipped to have sensitive and supportive discussions with staff
  • Remind managers about the importance of communicating regularly with their team and asking how they are.
  • Encourage staff to practise self-care such as a healthy routine for diet, sleep, and relaxation
  • Promote their existing health and well-being benefits and support, for example signposting people to their counselling helpline.

Here we offer some resources to help managers and HR teams with supporting their staff through the COVID crisis—and beyond.

Randstad details actions employers can take to make mental health a priority in the workplace:

Human Resources Director discusses ways in which HR can help relieve employee stress:

Harvard Business Review looks at leadership when the leaders themselves are drained:

Ottawa Public Health makes recommendations to support mental health for a variety of workplaces:

CEO Health & Safety Leadership Network shares a range of resources for employers, ranging from leadership behaviours to handling compassion fatigue and burnout:

Workplace Safety & Prevention Services offers downloadable PDFs around mental health:

Make It Our Business provides guidance on how employers can help support staff subjected to domestic violence:

Tourism employment decreased for the second month in a row in November, falling by 34,400 jobs, a 2.1% decrease from October. (Data is from the week of November 8 to 14.)

Unlike last month, when employment losses were concentrated in Quebec, most provinces saw a loss of tourism employment in November. The greatest loss occurred in Manitoba (-13,900), followed by Quebec (-11,400) and Ontario (-10,200). The decline in Manitoba is particularly notable as it represents a loss of 22.6% of tourism employment compared to October.

Highlights:

  • Tourism employment declined by 34,400 in November, a decline of 2.1% from October.
  • Employment gains occurred in the transportation (23,500) and travel services industries (7,200).
  • Approximately 32,000 jobs were lost in both the food and beverage services and recreation and entertainment industries, while the accommodation industry group lost 1,300 jobs.
  • In November, the tourism sector employed 466,000 fewer people than in November 2019.
  • Despite employment losses, the tourism unemployment rate declined to 13.9% (from 14.5% in October). This was driven by a decrease in the number of unemployed individuals. The number of unemployed tourism workers dropped from 282,300 in October to 262,700 in November.
  • In tourism, employment losses since February exceed employment lost across all industries. Employment across all industries–including tourism–is down by 300,000 jobs, while tourism employment on its own is down 410,000 jobs since February.

Please note: To allow comparisons with tourism sector data, which sees significant employment fluctuations over the year, we use seasonally unadjusted data for both tourism employment and overall employment.

Tourism Employment Rate

In November, employment (unadjusted for seasonality) across the entire Canadian economy decreased by 19,800. Overall, tourism employment dropped by 34,400 jobs due to a loss of 43,400 part-time jobs and a gain of 8,800 full time jobs.

From October to November, employment declined in the accommodation (-1.1%), food and beverage services (-3.9%), and recreation and entertainment industries (-8.1%). Employment gains occurred in the transportation (+8.1%) and travel services industries (+18.3%).

In November 2019, tourism employed 2,056,000 Canadians. This November, the sector employed 1,652,000 Canadians.

The recreation and entertainment industry lost 8.1% of its employment between October and November, due to a loss of 35,400 part-time jobs and a small gain in full-time positions. Following a 15.6% loss of employment between September and October, the accommodation industry lost an additional 1,300 positions in November. The food and beverage services industry lost 31,600 jobs in November, the second month in a row in which employment losses in that industry exceeded 30,000 positions.

November did see some employment gains in tourism industries: transportation gained 23,500 jobs and travel services gained 7,200 jobs.

Because the industry groups that make up tourism are different sizes, looking at the monthly change in employment as a percentage change relative to the previous month provides a more equitable picture of how each industry is doing. It also helps illustrate the size of the employment increases, relative to the employment decreases that occurred in past months.

Following two months of employment losses, the accommodation industry has lost the greatest percentage of employment relative to February, down 27.1% since the start of the pandemic. Despite having come close to getting back to February employment levels in August, the recreation and entertainment industry in November had 23.2% fewer workers than it did at the start of the pandemic. Even with two months of employment gains, the travel services industry still has 23.2% fewer employed workers than in February. Compared to February, food and beverage services employment was down 19.2% and transportation down 15.1%.

On a year-over-year basis, seasonally unadjusted employment across all Canadian industries was down 3.2% from November 2019. In comparison, tourism employment was down 22.3% from the same month a year ago. Employment losses in tourism currently make up 75% of all year-over-year employment losses. By industry group, year-over-year employment losses in November ranged from -37.4% in accommodations to -13.5% in transportation.

Unlike last month, when employment losses were concentrated in Quebec, most provinces saw a loss of tourism employment in November. The greatest loss occurred in Manitoba (-13,900), followed by Quebec (-11,400) and Ontario (-10,200). The decline in Manitoba is particularly notable as it represents a loss of 22.6% of tourism employment compared to October.

Employment in most provinces remains below 2019 levels. In November, on a year-over-year basis, the greatest employment losses have been in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Quebec. The labour force data for November shows that tourism employment in Prince Edward Island is the same as last year. The labour force survey data can have a high degree of variability in smaller provinces. However, it is possible that due to the seasonal nature of that province’s tourism sector, local demand is sustaining employment at usual levels.

Tourism Unemployment Rate

In November 2020, the unemployment rate in the tourism sector was at 13.9%, which is 8.6 percentage points higher than the rate reported in November 2019, but lower than the previous month (October 2020), when the unemployment rate stood at 14.5%. At 13.9%, tourism’s unemployment rate was above Canada’s seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate of 8.0%.

All tourism industry groups have reported higher unemployment rates than the same month last year.

The tourism unemployment rate decreased despite a loss of employment. Although the number of employed individuals decreased, so did the number of unemployed individuals. The unemployment rate is calculated by taking the labour force (the total of employed and unemployed individuals) and dividing it by the number of unemployed persons whose last job was in the tourism sector. While the number of employed individuals decreased by 34,400 in November, the number of individuals considered unemployed also decreased, by 19,600. This implies two possibilities:

  1. Some of those who lost employment in November had not yet started to look for new work and were therefore not counted as unemployed.
  2. Individuals who had been unemployed in October either found work in another industry or stopped looking for work entirely. In either case, they would no longer be counted as unemployed tourism workers.

Unemployment Rate
Tourism Industry Group[1]

November 2019

October 2020

November 2020

Tourism 5.3% 14.5% 13.9%
Accommodations 8.6% 20.5% 23.6%
Food & Beverage Services 4.8% 13.4% 13.5%
Recreation & Entertainment 7.2% 16.4% 13.3%
Transportation 2.8% 11.0% 10.5%
Travel Services 4.5% 23.5% 19.4%

On a provincial basis, tourism unemployment rates ranged from 6.4% in Nova Scotia to 18.1% in Prince Edward Island.

The seasonally unadjusted unemployment rates for tourism in each province, with the exception of Newfoundland and Labrador, were above the rates reported for the provincial economy.

Shrinking Tourism Workforce

Since 2001, the average yearly decline in tourism employment from July to November has been 2.2%. This year, the decline during the same period has been smaller because continued reopening during the summer drove employment higher in August and September. However, the employment declines in October and November have been greater than they usually are.

Average Monthly Employment Change in Tourism (2001-2019 vs. 2020)

Average Monthly Employment Change 2001 to 2019 Monthly Employment Change 2020
August -0.6% 3.2%
September -5.6% 0.2%
October -0.8% -4.1%
November -1.8% -2.1%

Seasonally unadjusted data from the labour force survey shows that overall employment in Canada is still 300,000 jobs lower than it was in February[2]. Employment within the tourism sector in November was 410,000 jobs lower than it was in February. The fact that employment losses in tourism have now exceed the total employment losses in the economy suggests that former tourism employees are either dropping out of the labour force (i.e., not seeking employment) or have found employment in other industries.

Further investigation is needed to determine exactly what is happening to these tourism workers. It is difficult to draw strong conclusions due the labour market volatility being created by Canada’s second wave of COVID-19, and the resulting second wave of business restrictions. For example, the decrease in unemployed workers may be partly due to laid-off workers waiting to return to their jobs once restrictions lift, rather than seeking new employment.

Still, we do know that some sectors have gained employment through the pandemic while others have not. Construction, wholesale trade, the professional/scientific sector, and education services, among other sectors, have all gained employment since February, while for other sectors employment is below where it was in February. Tourism-related industries remain the hardest hit by far. The decline in the overall unemployment rate suggests at least some workers are moving to those industries less affected by the pandemic.

 


[1] 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.
[2] Seasonally adjusted employment is still 573,800 jobs lower than it was in February.