Ontario Employments Statistics: Oh, How Things Change


Canada’s employment numbers are on a teeter-totter; every month they’re up and down. A look at employment numbers in August 2018 versus July 2018 reveals how much things can change.

Statistics Canada reports that the unemployment rate went up 0.2 of a percentage point from 5.8% to 6.0% in August 2018. You might think that doesn’t seem like much, but it is interesting to look at the figures behind the percentages; they are what should be of interest to the HR practitioner.

Across Canada there was an astonishing loss of 92,000 part-time positions in August, but on the other hand 40,400 new full-time positions were created. It could be argued that though more jobs have been lost than created, an increase in full-time positions represents movement towards higher quality, more secure, jobs.

Another interesting employment statistic is that Ontario lost a whopping 80,100 jobs in August 2018, having gained 60,600 in July. An even more alarming static is the loss of 22,100 positions in the professional fields. These jobs in sciences and the technical industry are supposed to be in demand, and in theory a little more secure than those in other fields, but that may not be the case.

Click here to read the full CBC article on August’s job numbers.

So, what do all these employment numbers mean to the HR practitioner? It’s very hard to know if we’re seeing a blip or the start of a downward trend. However, what is certain is that HR departments need to be aware of monthly employment numbers as they shift, and develop proactive recruitment and HR planning strategies that enable future labour shortages or surpluses to be addressed.


Discussion Questions:

  1. What could be the cause of such drastic changes in Canadian employment levels?
  2. If you were called into an organization as a recruitment consultant, what steps would you recommend the HR department take to be proactive?
  3. How have these lower employment numbers affected Canadian wage rates?
  4. Identify three things an employer can do if they feel a labour surplus issue is on the horizon for their organization. Identify the pros and cons of each strategy.




Ebbs and Flows

Hasan Hulki Muradi/Shutterstock

What goes up, must come down.

Canadian employment and/or unemployment rates follow the natural patterns of changes to local and national economies. From a recruitment perspective, paying attention to these external barometers takes time and effort. The challenge is to decipher which way the economy is moving, and then to make corresponding Human Resources decisions.

To use some recent examples, in the spring of 2017, Human Resources headlines highlighted a hiring boom due to significant job increases in the Canadian services and manufacturing sectors.

Click here to read the article.

By mid-summer of 2017, headlines were announcing a hiring slowdown and linking it with historically low unemployment rates across the country.

Click here to read an economic perspective on the drop in jobless rates.

From a Human Resources perspective, all of these scenarios provide us with data-based information in order to make strategic plans and decisions that go beyond the need for recruitment. If the industry or sector that we serve is going through a high employment phase, it means that jobs are being created. Employees are being hired and all of that links back to contributing positively to the economic climate. This also means a highly competitive and busy time for the Human Resources recruitment function.

When there is a low employment phase, meaning that there are no new jobs available, this is not always projected as a positive thing because there is no new economic growth. However, we must remember that the push for new jobs created a few months ago resulted in a flooding of the market. Those vacancies were filled, providing stability in employment for individuals and organizations across the country.

While this may mean a slowdown of work for the recruitment side of human resources, it means that the human resources focus shifts to retention and support strategies for those newly hired employees. No matter what happens in the cycle of fluctuating economic and employment patters, the Human Resources function must adapt and flow with the provision of support where and when it is needed most.

We just need to wait and watch for the tides to turn.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Why should Human Resources practitioners concern themselves with employment rates in Canada?
  2. How would you establish a Human Resources department to handle fluctuating recruitment needs?
  3. What industries do you think are impacted the most by changes to the Canadian economy?

Hiring for the Good.


Starbucks rewards card
Source: NorGal/Shutterstock

How do you get work experience in order to have work experience, if you have never worked before?

How do you get a job that requires you to have high school education, if you have been unable to complete high school?

This is a common dilemma for many young Canadians.  Unfortunately, when these two requirements become barriers for employment, the only alternative left for many Canadian youth is continued unemployment.  This often results in a downward spiral that can lead to poverty and homelessness, unless some form of intervention helps to stop the spiral.  Such extreme consequences of chronic unemployment create a negative impact on the individual and our communities as a whole.

Intervention in our Canadian culture usually comes through government supports and social assistance.  There are, however, more instances of highly visible businesses creating opportunities for youth as part of their corporate social responsibility and active commitment to the greater good.

For example, Starbucks (the corporate coffee giant), announced a commitment to an ethical hiring plan that would set a 10% target for hiring at-risk youth across Canada.

Click Here to Read the Article.

The announcement of this commitment came out in the late fall of 2015.  By the spring of 2016, local media started to pick up stories of job fairs offered by Starbucks, which seem to be putting this commitment into action.

Click Here to Read the Artcile.

Rather than seeing the typical negative patterns continue, in this case, we are able to see a positive and active societal change that focuses on the vulnerable and essential youth demographic in the development of the Canadian workforce.

One small change really does make one big difference.

Discussion Questions:

  1. How would you prepare an HR recruitment plan to hire at-risk youth at your current workplace?
  2. Identify five long-term benefits for an at-risk individual, as a result of targeted recruitment.
  3. Identify five long-term benefits of targeted recruitment that will impact Starbucks Canada.
  4. What are five possible challenges facing employers wanting to implement a targeted recruitment plan focused on hiring at-risk youth?