As we embark on a new year brimming with strategic initiatives to help build a resilient, competitive, inclusive tourism workforce, our research team shares some highlights of the previous year—and a peek at upcoming endeavours.
Federal Tourism Growth Strategy
The Federal Tourism Growth Strategy, Canada 365: Welcoming the World. Every Day., was released in 2023, laying out a hopeful road ahead for the sector. The strategy goes a long way towards elevating the role of tourism in the broader Canadian economy, and provides a useful framework for industry and government to continue working together on post-pandemic resilience and growth.
The Federal Ministerial Council will meet for the first time this year, and The Honourable Soraya Martinez Ferrada (Minister of Tourism and Minister responsible for the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec) has flagged two starting points for the Council to focus on: workforce issues and challenges around access/transportation. Tourism HR Canada’s President and CEO, Philip Mondor, will ensure labour issues remain central to the Council’s agenda.
The Future Workforce Is Now: Tourism Labour Market Forum
Tourism HR Canada’s annual Labour Market Forum was held in October, at the Brookstreet Hotel in Ottawa. The two-day event brought together nearly 100 representatives from across the country and across the Canadian tourism landscape: national, provincial, and territorial industry associations; human resource organizations (HROs); businesses; academic institutions; destination management/marketing organizations (DMOs); and various government agencies.
As part of our discussion around labour challenges, we were honoured to host a conversation and question-and-answer session with Minister Martinez Ferrada, who was open and responsive to priority topics that constrain workforce growth and mobility, such as housing and immigration.
Over the course of the event, delegates also explored a range of other topics:
- The compensation culture shift needed to make tourism a more attractive workplace
- Recent changes to immigration programs and strategies to make better use of the tools available
- Updates from the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada (ITAC) on their workforce development programs
- Implementing, measuring, and evaluating sustainability approaches in tourism
Of course, the work of the Forum didn’t end in October—over the next year, we’ll be building on these and other themes of importance to the tourism workforce. We’re planning on hosting a spring webinar on understanding and navigating the tourism ecosystem; we’re continuing to develop our worker archetype models to more accurately reflect the employment landscape; and we’re undertaking innovative research on psychological safety and mental health in tourism workplaces.
Navigating Immigration Programs
Over the past year, the federal government has introduced a number of changes to immigration, many of which directly impact the tourism sector. We’ve been following these developments closely, and are working hard to put useful tools in the hands of employers.
In partnership with the Hotel Association of Canada, we commissioned an analysis of the role of immigration in policy in meeting the employment needs of tourism operators. One of the recommendations to come out of this report is the creation of an immigration hub, which is currently under development. This site will be a centralized resource for industry professionals and business operators to get the most current information and to explore available programs.
We’re also continuing our search for the best data sources on temporary international workers in Canada, so we can better keep track of the impact of these changes on the sector and provide statistical evidence in support of recommendations around making some of the temporary changes permanent.
Foundational Labour Market Intelligence
As the foundational labour market system for the tourism sector, Tourism HR Canada leads numerous projects under this portfolio. The past year saw a lot of progress across many of our ongoing research projects. Some of them will begin wrapping up in 2024, and we look forward to sharing those reports with you as they become available.
- We continue to produce monthly labour market intelligence reports based on the Labour Force Survey from Statistics Canada, and will probe a bit more deeply into some of the trends that emerge over the course of the year.
- Our work with the Conference Board of Canada to project employment supply and demand over the next few years is starting to wrap up: we anticipate publishing the full report in the next few months; some of the preliminary projections are already available on our website.
- Our business intelligence surveys showed that things are generally trending in the right direction, but that operators continue to face challenges—particularly linked to labour pressures, inflation, and broader economic concerns.
- The perception and sentiment survey tracking general population opinions about working in tourism found that the sector’s reputation has improved somewhat over last year, but that there are still reputational hurdles to be cleared in the wake of pandemic disruptions and gradual recovery.
- We continue to work with Destination Canada to bring cohesion to the tourism labour market intelligence landscape, through collaboration on a data collective initiative.
- Our work on the Tourism Human Resources Module (THRM)—which provides an important economic perspective on business conditions and labour issues across the sector—has been delayed due to complications with the data, but we anticipate some considerable forward movement in 2024.
- The 2021 census data has been slow to acquire, partly due to normal delays in data processing but no doubt also hindered by COVID-related issues. Now that we have the full data set on hand, we will be publishing a series of short reports in the next few months, looking at the tourism workforce mid-pandemic—an interesting perspective relative to 2019 and today.
Be sure to keep apprised of developments on these and other workforce initiatives: subscribe to Tourism HR Insider for updates delivered straight to your inbox or follow our social channels.