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Yves-Thomas Dorval : Labour shortage among top priorities for Quebec employers’ group

April 29th, 2018 | by Richard Paul
Yves-Thomas Dorval  : Labour shortage among top priorities for Quebec employers’ group
Business and Finance
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Labour shortage among top priorities for Quebec employers’ group

For at least two years, the number of people retiring in Quebec has exceeded the number of people entering the workforce. “Who are going to be the replacement workers?”

Yves-Thomas Dorval is president of Quebec's Conseil du Patronat.
Ensuring that people in the workforce are able to get training they need and keep their skills current could help solve the province’s labour shortage, Yves-Thomas Dorval says. MARC GIBERT, ADECOM / POSTMEDIA NEWS FILES
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With a labour shortage across the province, Quebec needs immigrants, according to the Conseil du patronat du Québec.

But the province needs to do a better job of picking immigrants, the employers’ group said, so that the process better reflects labour market needs.

The shortage of labour in Quebec will be one of the Conseil du patronat’s main priorities, it said on Friday, as it released its “platform” for the next four years.

While the platform comes just months before the Oct. 1 provincial election, Yves-Thomas Dorval, the president of the Conseil, said the timing is coincidental. It has released a platform every four years since 2010.

For at least two years, the number of people retiring in Quebec has exceeded the number of people entering the workforce.

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“When there are a lot of people retiring, who are going to be the replacement workers?” Dorval said.

Currently, Quebec accepts almost 50,000 immigrants a year.

“50,000 is not too many,” he said.

However, skilled workers make up a little less than half of all immigrants to the province, he said: “The fundamental question is how we select and integrate” immigrants.

The group plans to work with employers to help them recruit and integrate immigrants into their workforce. While there are programs in place to support the hiring of immigrants, employers, particularly small businesses outside of major cities, may not know these programs exist.

“We have to accompany employers to help them use the programs that exist,” he said.

Immigration will protect jobs in Quebec, Dorval said.

“Today, there are more jobs than Quebecers,” he said. Employers who aren’t able to find workers may be forced to close their doors.

But immigration isn’t the only solution to the province’s labour shortage, he said.

The first priority, Dorval said, is to ensure that people who are already in the workforce are able to get training they need and keep their skills current.

The group is also working with employers to help them hire people from groups who are under-represented in the labour market — Indigenous people, people with disabilities and new arrivals.

Other issues the employers’ group plans to focus on include the reform of Quebec’s labour code, calling for a simplification of labour laws and regulations.

It’s also concerned about payroll taxes in Quebec, which are higher than in other provinces.

Government spending and debt will also be a concern, as is the environment and climate change — an area where Dorval said he sees opportunities for businesses to create value.

“If we only look at economic performance, Quebec looks good,” he said. “We have growth, not enormous growth, but significant growth, and it’s encouraging.”

While that makes it easy to assume things are going well, the province still faces long-term challenges that will affect the economy. Quebec’s high school dropout rate, for example, has improved, but remains among the highest in Canada.

“There are fundamental elements for our prosperity that still need to be improved,” Dorval said.

jserebrin@postmedia.com

twitter.com/jacobserebrin

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