The labor shortage that is hitting Quebec harder than the other provinces is holding back our economy and depriving citizens of the many goods and services they expect.
On the front page of Saturday’s La Presse, Stéphanie Grammond1’s editorial illustrated the most dramatic consequences of the lack of personnel in the health network. This is all the more disconcerting as the population ages and the needs of the elderly will increase. But this observation also applies to all government services, such as education, and to our economy as a whole.
So far, of course, there have been actions to find solutions to the labor shortage. On the other hand, they have not solved the problem, in particular due to a lack of interest in immigration. They were also held back by the perception that the labor shortage was a “beautiful problem”, that it would magically raise wages and working conditions for everyone.
We are far from reality and the population realizes that this unprecedented situation is causing them enormous harm.
In a survey conducted last April on behalf of the four major Quebec employers’ associations (CPQ, FCCQ, FCEI, MEQ), 86% of Quebecers are concerned about the effects of this shortage on the quality, price and availability of goods and services they consume. In this same study, we learn that 70% of our fellow citizens believe that increased immigration is a necessity. For a government that relies on social acceptability, this data should make you think.
Using data provided by the government since the shortage began in 2017, we know that retiring baby boomers will require more than 1.4 million people to enter the workforce by the end of the decade, a figure confirmed by the last census. These same data tell us that even by increasing the participation rate of people furthest from the labor market and lowering unemployment, no less than a quarter of these jobs to be filled will be through immigration. You are absolutely right to point out that with an unemployment rate well below full employment at 3.9% and an activity rate for people aged 25 to 55 approaching 90%, immigration, although it is not the only solution to the labor shortage, is our lifeline.
We must reduce the delays and uncertainties that tarnish Quebec’s reputation as a land of welcome for immigrants looking for work. Alas, we are left with a record level of vacancies.
Our permanent immigration has been declining for the past five years, and we need to catch up. So, based on government data, we asked the five provincial political parties we met with this week to increase our immigration thresholds to at least 80,000 immigrants per year for at least the next four years. We have little to fear from our capacity for reception, an argument often used to refuse to see reality. For many of these immigrants who are already in the country to occupy a position on a temporary basis, work in French and are integrated into their community, this will be a way to remove the uncertainty hanging over their future and that of their family.