Ottawa seeks job market clarity – Labour market survey

Good course correction:

The $8-million survey, which was announced several months ago and is just now under way, marks a return to more traditional methods after the Conservative government ran into criticism for relying heavily on a much less expensive private software program.

The Globe and Mail revealed that the government’s claims were the result of a problem with the data, which included jobs from the classified site Kijiji where the same job can be reposted many times, producing a false impression of a rising demand for labour.

When jobs from Kijiji were removed from the data set, the rise in job vacancies essentially disappeared.

Yet one year later, government officials and other labour market observers continue to struggle with the best way to measure the job market in an age when traditional job ads have been replaced with online job boards.

Two federal departments – Finance Canada and Employment and Social Development Canada – continue to pay for a database of online job ads from Wanted Analytics. The company runs software that scans online job boards as well as individual company websites to produce a database of jobs. The database it provides to government departments can be altered to include or remove various sources, including Kijiji.

Finance Canada renewed its contract with Wanted in December for another year at a cost of $18,250.

A Finance Canada spokesperson said the department uses the data along with other sources – such as Statistics Canada and the Bank of Canada – as part of its analysis of the labour market.

Employment and Social Development Canada said it does not use the database for labour market projections.

“This data can still be useful to the department to better understand current labour market conditions as they pertain to online job postings,” ESDC spokesperson Simon Rivet wrote in an e-mail.

Dan Kelly, the president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, said his organization supports the new survey even though some employers complain that answering questionnaires is a form of red tape.

Mr. Kelly said he expects the new survey will support the view of employers that labour shortages are real and that measures such as the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, while controversial, are needed.

“Ultimately we need better sources that everyone can rely on and accept as a true state of affairs on the labour market,” he said.

Now all we need is to reinstate the Census.

Ottawa seeks job market clarity – The Globe and Mail.

CFIB wants temporary foreign workers program replaced by special visa

Interesting change in tone, and linkage to permanent residency:

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business is calling on Ottawa to replace its controversial temporary foreign worker program with a visa that would provide a path to permanent residence for entry-level employees from abroad.

The organization says in a report released today it’s proposing the Introduction to Canada Visa that would address labour shortages for small businesses.

CFIB president and CEO Dan Kelly says the temporary foreign worker program has been legitimately criticized for using TFWs to fill permanent labour market needs.

He adds that small businesses would much rather hire permanent workers, but the immigration system doesn’t allow them to hire people with entry-level skills. The Canadian economy needs workers at all skill levels, Kelly says.

But still hard to see why we need to encourage low-skilled immigration.

CFIB wants temporary foreign workers program replaced by special visa – Macleans.ca.

EI rate cut: Ottawa skipped internal study in favour of interest group report

One sometimes wonder how Minister’s can say such things with a straight face, or whether they have any appreciation for more comprehensive analysis of policy options.

It is one thing to make a policy choice where political and other priorities play a role, but relying on the analysis of one interest group without a more independent assessment (that’s the public service role) is irresponsible.

No policy change should be done without such analysis. Abdication of Ministerial role.

And of course, the Government would not implement a policy suggestion from those on the left without conducting serious analysis:

Joe Oliver told the parliamentary finance committee that Ottawas decision to introduce the measure was based on the research of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.

“The department does not analyze every measure that we introduce,” Oliver told the hearing as he responded to a question.

“If we don’t do it, we look to those who have expertise and we did in this case to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.”

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business estimated the credit would generate 25,000 person-years of employment over the next several years.

A job that employs a worker for one year amounts to one “person-year.”

But Canada’s parliamentary budget office has argued the credit will create only 800 net new jobs in 2015-16, while a freeze in employment insurance premiums could cost the economy 10,000 jobs over the same period.

The budget watchdogs study said that overall, the credit would create about 1,000 “person-years” of employment with a price tag of $555,000 for each person-year.

EI rate cut: Ottawa skipped internal study in favour of interest group report – Politics – CBC News.

Temporary foreign workers: Canada needs fewer guests – and more citizens

Globe editorial:

What should Mr. Kenney do?

Study the issue: Take the time needed to get this right. Commission a group of experts and give them at least six months. Bring the other parties in, and borrow their best ideas. Don’t just introduce legislation in the next few weeks, backed up by nothing more than a thin press release and no actual evidence, and try to hustle it through Parliament. Learn from the fiasco of the Fair Elections Act.

Be principled: A temporary worker program should be for jobs that are temporary. There’s a logic to bringing in seasonal agricultural workers. There may be a logic to some highly skilled workers being brought in under the program, in cases where no trained Canadians exist or where the job is temporary. But burger flippers?

Shrink the program: Make it smaller. Much smaller. Cap the number allowed in each year. Let Canada’s labour market work. If employers in low-wage fields find that they have to offer compensation in excess of minimum wage to attract short-order cooks, customer-service agents and retail sales people, that’s a good thing. It will lead to higher wages for people at the low end of the wage scale, and it will also spur innovation and productivity gains. We want the market to work and to self-correct as it is supposed to, with a tight labour supply in one area of the country forcing up wages, thereby drawing in the underemployed, be they part-time students from down the road or the unemployed from across the country.

Give temporary workers more rights: Shrink the program – but expand their rights. Why not give them the right to change jobs, and even complete labour mobility within Canada, just like Canadians? Give them the power to fight back against abuse and raise their own wages.

More citizens, fewer guests: Canada was built by immigrants who became citizens, not visitors who went home. That’s our future, too.

Citizenship Bill C-24 at Committee goes in other direction, by making citizenship harder to get and no longer providing credit for time spent in Canada as temporary foreign workers.

Temporary foreign workers: Canada needs fewer guests – and more citizens – The Globe and Mail.

Interestingly, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business includes in its recommendations on Temporary Foreign Workers a pathway to citizenship, while the government’s Bill C-24 makes this more difficult given removal of partial credit for pre-Permanent Residents time:

•  Ending the moratorium on restaurants

• Creating a pathway to permanent residence for all TFWs

• A Bill of Rights for TFWs

• Stricter enforcement of existing rules

• An accredited TFW stream for trusted employers

• Matching TFW/Canadian wages by employer

• Maximum 1:1 ratio of TFWs to Canadians

• Allowing permanent immigration for those in entry-level jobs

• Ensuring other government programs (eg. EI) address need for entry-level workers.

CFIB urges feds to end moratorium, enforce rules, protect TFWs’ rights – National Scene – Daily Business Buzz.