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Canadian firms are looking to hire as they rebuild production but a full recovery is unlikely in 2021 as pandemic restrictions temper demand and make it difficult to recruit workers, industry sources told MNI.
Canadian payrolls are seen rising by 90,000 in March, lowering the unemployment rate to 8% from 8.2%, according to an economist consensus ahead of a Statistics Canada report due Friday at 8:30 EST. That's a slowdown from the gain of 259,200 jobs in February when governments were relaxing health restrictions. Even with renewed curfews and stay-at-home orders this month, firms still expressed optimism about continued hiring gains.
While signs of strong economic growth in the first quarter led some investors to bet the Bank of Canada will taper asset purchases at its April 21 meeting, Governor Tiff Macklem has cautioned job market slack is a big argument against tightening monetary stimulus to keep a lid on inflation. Firms told MNI there's little pressure on wages even as they seek to bring back workers.
John Betts, Executive Director, Western Forestry Contractors' Association:
"We are expecting, word of mouth, contractors' applications coming back up again, so I'm getting the impression that most of the workforce is returning," Betts told MNI.
Firms planted a record number of trees in British Columbia last year and the goal is to match that again in 2021, he said. The danger of having to shut down work sites for Covid-19 outbreaks remains a challenge, which could also hurt recruiting, he said.
Wages are likely to remain steady, he said, following a strong increase a few years ago, he said.
Breanne O'Reilly, program manager at PetroLMI Division of Energy Safety Canada:
"We think that 2021 is going to continue to be a rough year for the industry. We are projecting a slight increase in 2021 but employment not recovering until 2022, with the pandemic and other uncertainty around with vaccination and increased travel driving oil demand," she told MNI.
"There is going to be a lot of demand in the areas such as IT and environmental social government tools as the industry has changed," she said. "Those are the areas where other industries are also hiring so there is high competition for those roles."
The industry may need a push to attract younger workers after years of volatility scared some people away, she said. "We have not done great work to attract young workers in this industry," she said. "Younger workers are not seeking a career in the oil and gas industry as there were a lot of fluctuations last year and it is seen as unstable."
Brady Stadnicki, Policy Manager, Canadian Cattlemen's Association:
"One of the beef cattle industry's challenges has been securing enough labor at the beef processing plant and farm level," he said. "Labor shortages continue to be a challenge for the industry."
Wages appear poised for another modest year, in line with a trend over the past five years for small and steady growth, he said.
"I think overall the agriculture and beef industry is a steady and strong industry to help the country work through the pandemic and it will be a really strong driver of Canada's economic recovery."