Unlike the majority of the world, Canada and the USA observe Labour Day on the first Monday of September each year- coming September 5, 2023. The day is a statutory holiday in Canada and, like its international counterpart- serves as a recognition and celebration of workers’ rights.
This May Day, we take the opportunity to look into Canada’s labour situation as of April 2023.
Employment Numbers in Canada
Canada reported positive numbers in professional, scientific, technical services and public administration while experiencing employment losses in construction and retail trade. The changes in employment numbers for April were as follows:
|Sector||Change in employment numbers||Percentage change|
|Professional, scientific and Technical services||+15,000||+0.9%|
Among provinces, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Alberta saw increases in employment, while employment in Quebec declined.
The employment rate was at 61.9%, with a further breakdown of the changes shown below:
|Category||Change in employment numbers||Percentage change|
|Core-aged women (ages 25-54)||+43,000||+0.7%|
|Core-aged men (ages 25-54)||-36,000||-0.5%|
Unemployment rates in Canada
The employment rate shows the percentage of unemployed persons in relation to the total population of a place.
The latest monthly report for April by Statistics Canada placed the unemployment rate at a record low of 5.2%, from 5.3% in March.
Average Hourly wages
Canada also experienced a 3.3% average hourly wage increase to $31.06 in March 2023.
In a move designed to negate the effects of inflation, Canada also increased the federal minimum wage to $16.65 from the previous $15.55. The move will come as a reprieve to over 26,000 Canadian workers whose earnings fell below the minimum wage.
Statistics Canada also highlighted that the number of employees earning over $40 per hour was up 1.2 million (+42.7%) compared to April 2019 and now represents almost a quarter (24.5%) of all employees in Canada.
Is Work-from-Home the new normal?
The Covid pandemic opened new doors for mobile work, with work-from-home culture, live conferences and chats becoming a norm even after the lifting of lockdowns. The convenience and balance this arrangement offers has many arguing for it as a worker’s right.
In April 2019, 19% of Canadian workers worked exclusively from home, down from 24.3% in January. Workers in hybrid work arrangements that combine home and office locales made up 5.8%.
Across Canada’s Census metropolitan area (CMA), the highest numbers of workers in either work-from-home or hybrid arrangements as of April 2023 were as follows:
|CMA||Percentage of Work-from-home or hybrid arrangements|
|Ontario part of Ottawa-Gatineau CMA||45.8%|
|Quebec part of the Ottawa-Gatineau CMA||39.4%|
The tentative agreement between the PSAC and Treasury Board on May 1
May 1 was also particularly significant this year, as the PSAC arrived at a tentative deal with the Federal government regarding the demands of over 120,000 workers in the Treasury Board. The strike- one of the largest of its kind in Canada, hampered the functioning of many government arms, including the Canada Revenue Agency, Transport Canada and the IRCC.
With the May 1st deal, the PSAC was able to successfully negotiate a 12.5% wage increase over 4 years, one-time lump sum payments for near-retirees, a review of the current directives on Remote work, along with initiatives for safer and inclusive workplaces, protections against contracting out and seniority rights for government employees.