Canadian Rural Revitalization Foundation Conference – Final Day – Human Capital & Migration

2261 by Valerie KeelerOne of the interesting sessions at the CRRF conference came from the “human capital and migration” team of the Rural Policy Learning Commons.

Linamar Campos (Université de Montréal) spoke about the experience of agriculture temporary foreign workers in communities of rural Quebec. The main issue, as has been noted by many others, is that temporary foreign workers are tied by their contract to one employer. Thus, the employer has considerable “power” vis-à-vis the (lack of) options available the temporary foreign worker.

Barbara Neis (Memorial University of Newfoundland) spoke about the main results of the large project she has organized with many colleagues studying the various dimensions around workers who commute long distances (and stay for weeks or months) in order to find work. She suggested that

“some firms have a human resource practice that essentially “manufactures” a precarious employment situation, for example when full-time workers are laid off and then some are re-hired as contract workers.”

I noted that

“for Canada as whole, we are now in a situation where there are fewer young people entering the workforce compared to the number of retiring workers.”

The chart below shows that in the early 1970s, there were about 250 entering workers for every 100 retiring workers. For most of the 1980s, there were about 150 individuals entering the workforce for every 100 retiring workers

We are now in a position where there are fewer than 100 potential entering workers for every worker reaching the age of retirement. This situation is projected to last up to 2029, regardless of the level of immigration.


In the map below, every blue area presently has fewer (potential) workers entering the workforce compared to the number of workers reaching retirement age. Thus, employment levels can be maintained either by:

  1. encouraging individuals to move to this area; or
  2. encouraging older individuals to keep working

Regions that are darker blue have a larger labour shortage situation. I looked at whether these blue regions were experience a slow rate of rural youth out-migration – because there would be more local jobs available.crrf-final-chart-2

The results suggest that rural youth out-migration is slowing (but only marginally). Also, there is no perceptible increase in the in-migration of young adults to take up the jobs of the retirees.

“For rural entrepreneurs, finding qualified and trained staff has always been a problem. We are now in an era where finding any labour will be more difficult.”

Ray D Bollman





Ray Bollman on site at CRRF conference – signing off! Great conference!!

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