For the past five years, the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce has polled business leaders through its Manitoba Business Outlook Survey to understand the top challenges facing our business community.
Year after year the shortage of workers has been the number one concern amongst business leaders. What is even more concerning is that the situation does not seem to be improving and unfortunately, it’s not just a Manitoba problem.
Canada is facing critical labour market shortages, and it is causing uncertainty for Canadian businesses and workers. For Manitoba businesses, employee recruitment and retention are the single greatest challenges. Mismatched skills between workers and employers’ needs are also leading to shortages in specific occupations. Practically, this has meant that without the requisite staff to fill regular shifts, many businesses have been obligated to reduce operating capacity or delay expansions.
Whether it’s access to skilled labour, credential recognition, or identifying the in-demand jobs of the future, workforce remains the number one worry for business leaders. In 2023, with a highly mobile workforce and labour shortages across the country, a competitive economic landscape is intrinsically linked to our ability to both retain and compete for talent.
That is why the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce has developed our own policy platform organized into four public policy pillars – the second of which focuses on attracting and retaining talent. We are encouraging political parties to take the following four steps to ensure that Manitoba retains its talent and attracts the skills necessary to fill in-demand jobs:
1. Foster stronger alignment between post-secondary and employers by accelerating industry-education partnerships and by creating work-integrated learning programs, especially in rural and Northern Manitoba. Work with both sectors on a strategy to establish a new governance framework to address deficiencies in the quality and sharing of Labour Market Information (LMI), enhance interprovincial collaboration, and establish a cross-departmental committee to improve LMI coordination.
2.Collaborate with the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce and various stakeholders to develop a comprehensive strategy to tackle net interprovincial migration population losses within the first 12 months in office.
3. Improve labour market outcomes for Manitoba’s Indigenous population by committing to the creation of an Indigenous-led strategy and ensure that Manitoba’s Indigenous Peoples are partners in the development of provincial economic growth and labour policies.
4. Expedite and streamline foreign credential recognition and work with both the federal government and provincial regulatory authorities to remove barriers to employment for newcomers. Work with the federal government to expand immigration intakes and improve Manitoba’s immigrant retention rate by extending regional immigration programs and wrap around settlement services for both primary immigrants and their families.
It will be imperative that Manitoba’s next provincial government focuses its attention and efforts on mitigating the acute labour market shortage that is causing uncertainty for Manitoba businesses and workers. Unless we address this issue, the next provincial government will be missing one of the key building blocks of a prosperous Manitoba.