How little Ottawa knows about Canada’s labour shortage

With Kijiji out of the picture, Canada’s job vacancy picture sure looks a whole lot different


The furor over the Temporary Foreign Worker program shows no signs of letting up, with Auditor-General Michael Ferguson warning this week that Canada’s jobs data is woefully inadequate and the opposition calling for the AG to conduct a full review of the program, something Ferguson said he was open to. Meanwhile, economist Mike Moffatt has raised troubling questions here and here about the extent to which companies in southwestern Ontario are using temporary foreign workers even when there’s no evidence of labour shortages there.

Back on Monday the Globe and Mail noted that Employment and Social Development Canada has quietly changed the way it gathers labour data to ignore job postings from Kijiji and other online classified sites. In doing so, the vacancy rate plunges from more than four per cent to just 1.5 per cent. That move followed a warning from the Parliamentary Budget Office in March that such sites were completely unreliable for assessing the labour market.  Take those sites out of the picture, the PBO said, and the national labour shortage that Ottawa has gone on about for months would look dramatically different.

No kidding.

From this week’s Econowatch section in Maclean’s magazine, here’s our Chart of the Week, showing just how far apart the federal government and Statistics Canada (the federal government’s own data collection agency) have been on the vacancy rate in the country, and what things look like with Kijiji out of the picture:


Because ESDC doesn’t publish an actual job vacancy rate, we relied on a chart the Finance Department published in the “Jobs Report,” released alongside the budget in February. Both Finance and ESDC draw on the same data provided by WANTED Analytics. It’s worth noting that while ESDC has kicked its Kijiji habit, the Globe story says Finance appears committed to using it as a source for labour data.




How little Ottawa knows about Canada’s labour shortage

  1. Part of the problem is simply that getting jobs in 2014 is no longer done as it was in the past. And in the past governments were poor at tracking trends and needs of employers except that the whole field was slower, so mistakes could be covered up or addressed.

    That environment no longer exists – my niece is a recent IT graduate and I sent her a job posting that was in the careers section of my local newspaper. She was stunned that jobs were still advertised that way!

    So as much as the critics what to trash the government’s use of Kiiji, it was a legitimate attempt to get a handle on an incredibly fast moving field. It may not have worked, but it is better than the old way (which also didn’t work)

    • There are NOOOOO (decent) Jobs, in Canada, like there used to be.
      WHAT in god’s green canadian earth do you NOT understand here. ?
      Think about it, if you are the 99% of other Canadians, but heck,
      if you’re not, then don’t woory about it, -’cause that’s what Harpo does -NOT worry about Canadians.

      • Absolutely Agree! They are NO Decent Paying Jobs in Canada! and NO “Skilled labour shortage”! = it is ONE BIG BS!

        Almost all my friends are in the so called “skilled labour” field and those who are lucky hold to their old jobs because these days companies will Not give you any Decent salary + benefits like they used to before (= to Value skilled workers). Oh yes, they do post the “vacancy” but they are only willing to give you a Contract or a Temp position! with No benefits, no RRSP, etc and the wages are simply ridiculous!
        It’s a Big MYTH and a farcy repeated by all these parakeets in the high ivory towers of Goverments and so called ‘researchers” and statisticians (and Many magazines – right, Macleans?) who have NO freaken idea how the REAL World goes!

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