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Toronto, December 12, 2017 – The combination of a growing economy and a dearth of skilled workers has created a labour shortage of approximately 361,700 jobs—the highest number of unfilled private sector jobs ever recorded in Canada—according to the Q3 2017 Help Wanted report, released today by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). 

The corresponding vacancy rate—the proportion of unfilled jobs relative to all jobs available in the private sector—jumped up to 2.8 per cent, its highest point since before the 2008 recession.

“Labour shortages are again becoming a major hindrance to businesses across the country, especially small firms,” said Ted Mallett, Chief Economist at CFIB. “We need government to take action, to find solutions for chronic shortages that inhibit a small business’ ability to take on new contracts, expand and innovate.”

Regional vacancy rates

Businesses in Canada’s three most populous provinces have the most difficult time finding suitable employees. British Columbia has the highest vacancy rate (3.4 per cent) followed by Quebec (3.1 per cent) and Ontario (3.0 per cent). All three provinces experienced rising vacancy rates in Q3 2017, as did Alberta and Saskatchewan.

  Vacancy rate Unfilled jobs
British Columbia 3.4% 60,000
Quebec 3.1% 85,000
Ontario 3.0% 149,600
New Brunswick 2.5% 5,700
Saskatchewan 2.4% 8,200
Alberta 2.2% 33,900
Manitoba 2.1% 9,400
Nova Scotia 2.1% 6,100
Newfoundland and Labrador 1.9% 2,800
Prince Edward Island 1.9% 900

Industry groupings

Among broad industry groupings, eight of 12 sectors experienced rising vacancy rates in Q3. In terms of unfilled positions, the retail (50,000 jobs), hospitality (45,900 jobs) and construction (38,000 jobs) industries are experiencing the biggest labour shortages. 

For detailed tables on vacancy rates by province and by industry see the Q3 2017 job vacancy report.