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FGIA: Let’s talk employment

Governments are making efforts to boost skilled trades participation.

May 4, 2023  By Amy Roberts

Labour challenges continue to create concerns in Canada. Unemployment rates remain at record lows with strong competition for available workers. The construction and manufacturing industries are among the most challenged to fill vacant positions.

The Canadian government announced new country-wide initiatives in 2022 and they appear to be helping alleviate the shortage, especially in construction. The government of Canada has designated more than $308 million dollars to help meet the labour market needs and better support residential construction. Three federal initiatives were introduced in 2022.

The Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) program allows Canadian employers to hire foreign workers to fill temporary jobs when qualified Canadians are not available. Five key policy changes have been implemented to the TFW program to facilitate employment. It has made the seasonal cap exemption permanent and added longer validity for labour market impact assessments. The employment duration for high-wage stream and global talent stream workers has been raised to three years from two years. Certain sectors will be able to have up to 30 percent of their workforce in the low-wage program with a 20 percent cap for all low-wage employers. Finally, the automatic refusal to process applications in areas with less than six percent unemployment, and in certain Alberta sectors, has been ended.

More than $33 million will help fund the Skilled Trade Awareness and Readiness (STAR) program over five years. An additional $2.8 million will fund Get Ready in Trades (GRiT), a project of the Selections Career Support Services. Programs like STAR and GRiT encourage Canadians, particularly those facing barriers, to explore and prepare for careers in the skilled trades.


Nearly $247 million will fund 13 projects enabling small- and medium-sized employers to offer apprenticeship training opportunities. To help marginalized Canadians, the incentives are doubled for small and medium-sized businesses who hire from equity-deserving groups.

Overall, the size of the Canadian labour force has continued to grow, and the participation rate has recovered to its pre-pandemic level. In January, an additional 153,000 (up 0.7 percent) people joined the Canadian labour force, boosting the participation rate to 65.7 percent (up 0.3 percent). Construction employment reflects one of the fastest-growing industries over the previous 12 months. In January, construction employment grew by 16,000 (one percent) and is up 114,000 (7.6 percent) on a year-over-year basis. 

During the third quarter of 2022, Canada’s population grew at the fastest rate in more than 50 years, mainly driven by an increase in non-permanent residents. On a year-over-year basis, employment for those who were not born in Canada and have never been a landed immigrant was up 13.3 percent (79,000 people) in January, compared with growth in total employment of 2.8 percent (536,000 individuals). As of January, this group accounted for 3.4 percent of total employment, up slightly from 3.1 percent a year earlier.

Among women, ages 25 to 54, employment rose by 51,000, or 0.8 percent, in January. For women whose youngest child was under six, employment rose markedly over the previous 12 months, from 72.9 to 76.6 percent. Also of note, 59.6 percent of women aged 55 to 64 were employed in January, the highest rate since 1976. As more near retirement, more new entrants will be needed.

Let’s continue to boost construction employment in Canada by welcoming everyone who wants to work into our industry.

Amy Roberts is FGIA director of Canadian and technical glass operations

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