I hope everyone has enjoyed the summer. Although a little cool & wet at times, it looks to have evened out and we are on track to see some exceptional crops this year!
The Chamber has spent the summer reviewing various Chamber events and initiatives in an effort to strengthen and improve our processes. The Chamber also spent some time collecting insights from our members. These insights are critical as the Chamber looks to review and confirm its priorities in relation to advocacy and planning. The best way to collect these insights is our Chamber Survey. If you have not yet had the chance to complete the survey, please take some time to fill it out.
Your opinions are important to us.
Many recent discussions in Prince Albert have focused on the various impacts a labour shortage is having on local employers. Discussions on labour soon turn to discussions about the various problems that stem from a local shortage, including reduced operations and unfulfilled contracts. When one looks for solutions or beacons of hope that might address these issues, they soon find more problems and challenges.
These challenges can be seen in the recent changes to Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFW). Changes to the TFW program will result in higher fees to employers, more restrictions on the number of temporary foreign workers they can employ and a reduction in the length of time a worker may stay and work in Canada.
While the Chamber strongly promotes the mobilization of all forms of labour – including youth, Aboriginal and older workers – these segments alone cannot address the acute labour shortages our province is facing. Employees under the TFW program have made the difference between some operations being able to operate and those that simply cannot function due to a shortage of skilled labour.
Recently, the Saskatchewan Chamber partnered with the Prince Albert & District Chamber of Commerce to host a roundtable discussion in Prince Albert on the Canada Job Grant and the Temporary Foreign Worker program. The discussions provided a number of insights into the problems some local employers are facing due to labour shortages and the impact the recent changes to the TFW program are expected to bring. While listening to the various opinions, I was reminded of some past comments that seem to stem from the differences among each new generation of workers. Yesterday’s workforce is frequently critical of today’s workforce, questioning the work ethic and ambitions of today’s workers. But, one has to wonder if today’s workforce is truly different, or are the differences and criticisms similar to past criticisms from previous generations?
Gen Y, or Millennials, are the newest generational workforce to come under scrutiny. Gen Y workers are often perceived as being self-entitled, or expecting high pay for few work hours. Employers have seen these differences manifest themselves into a labour pool that is seemingly comfortable taking a job and working for a few weeks before receiving their pay and disappearing. I am sure there are other perspectives about the current labour force and the challenges that come from working in today’s economy. Moving forward, it will be critical to confirm where in Saskatchewan our current challenges and shortages exist, as we will require comprehensive strategies to mobilize as many sectors of labour as possible if we are to meet current demand. Strategies will need to be flexible as different regions of our province face different challenges and have differing needs.
I encourage all business leaders and members to engage on the topic of labour. If things are tight now, what will we have in place when Canada’s labour shortage peaks in 2020?