It’s east vs. west for in-demand workers

NHL rivalries are no longer the only thing stoking competition between provinces. They’re now also fighting for Canada’s scarce supply of workers.

Driving the news: Provinces are piloting new strategies to lure skilled workers in high-demand sectors like healthcare, green energy, and construction.

  • Ads: Alberta launched its “Alberta is Calling” ad campaign last year, looking to recruit young workers, particularly from Ontario and BC, with the promise of jobs and affordable housing. It launched another phase this year, targeting the Maritimes.
  • Recruitment: Newfoundland held a job fair aimed at convincing the over 10,000 ex-pat Newfoundlanders in Alberta to come back home. Saskatchewan formed a healthcare recruitment agency travelling to schools in five provinces to recruit future graduates. 
  • Cash: Nova Scotia offers a $10,000 bonus to nurses who sign a two-year contract to work there, Québec upped retention bonuses for nurses working in the northernmost part of the province, and Alberta is considering a $1,200 bonus for certain workers.

Why it matters: Immigration has boosted Canada’s labour force, but some vital roles like nursing and construction are still short-staffed. Until the gap is filled — which could be never — provinces can only gain workers at the expense of other provinces.

  • When it comes to interprovincial migration, Alberta has been the big winner. As of July 1 of this year, the province added a whopping 184,400 more people compared to the year before. Atlantic provinces also boasted notably strong population growth.

Zoom out: In Q2, Stats Canada reported 818,195 job vacancies. These aren’t just numbers on a page; vacancies result in very real problems, like a lack of healthcare workers leading to ER closures and a lack of builders contributing to housing shortages.—QH