Impact of Increased Immigration on Tourism Workforce Shortages

In 2016, the government of Canada set a 2017 immigration intake target of 300,000; on November 1st, 2017, it announced even higher targets for 2018-2020. These will see the yearly intake of immigrants rise to 0.9% of the Canadian population by 2020. Tourism HR Canada’s original projections for tourism job shortages used the historical intake of immigrants—around 0.8% of the population.

We know that many jobs have gone unfilled since those projections were made1. Businesses have reduced hours, hotels have taken rooms out of circulation, and—in extreme circumstances—businesses have temporarily closed due to a lack of workers. Under these conditions, the sector has had difficulty expanding. The tight labour market limited revenue and prevented jobs that could exist from being created.

We cannot undo the past, but we can look forward. Our original modelling projected 145,400 jobs going unfilled from 2018 to 2035. With immigration increased to 0.9% of the population, we expect about 85,000 of those jobs to be filled—this is beneficial, but still leaves a 60,000-job shortfall2.

This estimation of the new immigration targets’ effects looks solely at the supply side (people available to fill jobs). It does not account for the fact that that these new Canadians will themselves increase demand for tourism goods and services, nor does it consider the government’s new Tourism Vision. Independent modelling of the vision’s targets estimates that increasing international overnight visitors by 30 per cent by 2021 will require 17,700 additional jobs, while making Canada a top 10 international destination by 2025 will require 64,600 additional jobs.

It also does not consider the secondary steps that must be taken to prepare new immigrants for work in sustainable, well-paid, long-term jobs. Newcomers may need opportunities to learn or augment skills to help them thrive in Canada. Particularly for refugees (of whom there could be 53,200 in 2020), skills and second-language training can help newcomers work and succeed in service-oriented industries that otherwise have low barriers to entry.

A full update of Tourism HR Canada’s labour projections—including all factors affecting the current labour market—will occur in 2018/19.

Impact of Increased Immigration on Workforce Shortages in Tourism

1 Original projections were for 240,000 unfilled jobs between 2010 and 2035.

2 Assumes new 2018-2020 immigration targets are maintained out to 2035.

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