Labour shortage is manufacturers’ real problem

Author: Northern Gateway
Dated: 20 June 2012

Canadian manufacturers face a critical economic issue according to their industry association: a shortage of skilled labour.

Recent pronouncements by federal NDP leader Thomas Mulcair that a high-valued Canadian dollar is hurting Canadian manufacturers is inaccurate say Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters.

In a recent article available online at the Financial Post, Jay Myers, president of Ottawa-based Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters said claims that Canada suffers from Dutch Disease “are a misdiagnosis.”

“If anything, the first thing I hear talking to those companies that supply [the natural resources] sector is [the challenge in] finding people and I think what we’ll see over the next couple of years is that those labour shortages will spread across the country and companies will have to be more innovative in the way they supply these projects.”

In his article, author Dan Ovsey notes that Canadian manufacturers are experiencing a relative boom in growth as they’ve added over 115,000 jobs in the past 6 months alone. To sustain growth and to deal with the shortage of skilled labour, Canadian companies will have to tackle productivity issues Mr. Myers says:

“Productivity isn’t just about removing costs. It’s about increasing the value around your existing product or increasing the value of the product itself, and you do that by new product development through innovation and improving technology and the functional capabilities of the product; or, customizing through design or through the service you’re providing for the product — the support services, the logistics, the customer service, the financing, which is really important.”

These kinds of innovations—especially when they serve Canada’s oil and gas industry—happen all across Canada, in the manufacturing, financial, logistics and support services sectors. As we’ve noted before, it is Canada’s oil boom.

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  • Ralph Courtnage, Aug 29th, 2012 (2 years ago)

    Okay, I have been giving this Northern Gateway Pipeline thing some considerable thought. Yes I think it should be built, but not to export crude to Asia, but to export refined oil products to Asia and the Pacific Rim.
    To really add long term value and benefits to all those impacted by the Northern Gateway Project, a refining facility should be built at Kitimat. This would satisfy BC's desire to reap more financial benefit from the pipeline, provide much needed long term jobs for natives and others in Northern BC, and to some extent, it would satisfy the concerns of environmentalists of having heavy, crude laden, ships travelling through the pristine passages of the BC coast.
    I like David Black's proposal to build a refinery at Kitimat. I also think that the three western provinces should partner with Mr. Black to guarantee it's construction. The construction of a refinery in Kitimat would virtually guarantee the construction of the Northern Gateway pipeline by bringing onside many of those who oppose it in its current form.

  • Daniel, Jul 04th, 2012 (2 years ago)

    Reality of Dutch Disease? There's no agreement in economic circles that Dutch disease was even real for the Dutch let alone Canada. More people working, earning higher incomes and having the ability to get more for their dollars doesn't sound like a disease to me. For crying out loud, the association representing manufacturers is even saying they're doing fine and are more concerned about filling jobs than losing them. It's funny that people get their noses bent over construction jobs. I guess we shouldn't let carpenters build houses, because hey, once the house is built they'll be unemployed. Here's a sarcastic solution to that problem, we should make building codes more lax so the quality drops on the houses constructed so that carpenters will be constantly working on them, because it's more important to keep carpenters working on one project than to let them build one and then move on to build another. I saw some chatter recently about long term jobs and pipelines. Those focused on the jobs as the only economic benefit argument should be advocating for a bucket brigade. that'll keep everyone employed!

  • Dave, Jul 04th, 2012 (2 years ago)

    Stamping your feet and ignoring the actual reality of something called "Dutch Disease" isn't acting in a grounded manner.
    Reducing the requirement for environmental impact assessments and restricting the involvement of people in the investigation phases of a large project is what is beyond all comprehension.
    If this project had long term benefits for this country then there would be no need to rush, The facts of the matter are this project is a short term project with a quick return for very few people. It will not rise all boats because it is not a rising tide, it is more akin to a tsunami and the bubble will collapse with folk like Enbridge Sinopec etc moving on to the next quick fix to their stock market value.
    Employment in the area post exploitation will be restricted to clean-up and no doubt will include the right complaining because they are being taxed too much to clean up their mess.

  • Daniel, Jun 21st, 2012 (2 years ago)

    Linda, is it fair to say that you really agree with Mulcair's politics? Because his economic theories aren't grounded in reality. How lower unemployment, rising wages and better purchasing power for all Canadians can be declared a disease is beyond comprehension.

  • linda, Jun 20th, 2012 (2 years ago)

    I agree with Thomas Mulcair. There has to be more to Canada and Canadians than Big Oil. It is too expensive for us to be drive just by BO. It costs job, income and parity to have the whole economy based on demands of BO. Small/medium business cannot compete with wages and it is costly to them to train staff just for employment down the line (with BO). It costs society in terms of the increasing disparity rich/poor. There is no shortage of studies indicating when the rich get richer and the number of poor rises the society is sick. Just drive highway 63 and watch who is being irresponsible, unlikely it is "ralph/martha and the kids" showing off on the highway. Stop shoving the relevance of the pipeline at me and address the quality of water issue; so far the math does not work, 3:1 ratio of water uses vs oil produced. Where is water to come from in the future? Who will drink the last glass of water and who, then, will drink the first glass of oil?

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