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Money on the Table: Labour shortage has cost Canadian economy $13 billion since 2021, CME report says

Toronto, Ontario — A new report from the Canadian Press shows that the nation’s ongoing skilled labour shortage is not only grinding many collision centres to a halt, but is actively bleeding our economy dry, as $13 billion has been lost over the past year alone.

The Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters’ (CME) annual labour survey, reported Tuesday by the Canadian Press, found that nearly two thirds of Canadian manufacturers, of a total 563 manufacturers across 17 industries, have lost or been forced to turn down work contracts due to a lack of labour.

These penalties and loss of sales left a total of $7.2 billion on the table for Canadian manufacturers, according to the survey.

Additionally, 43 percent were forced to postpone or cancel capital projects because of labour shortages, resulting in another $5.4 billion in investments down the drain.

CME president and CEO Dennis Darby says that labour concerns that existed prior to the pandemic have only exacerbated, and the feeling among manufacturers that they are short on labour has risen from 60 percent in 2020 to 80 percent today.

“As the pandemic eased from a societal point of view, the concerns about labour shortages were just as strong as ever,” he said.

All of Canada’s skilled trades industries, but particularly the welding, machining and industrial mechanics fields, in addition to our own collision industry, have struggled over the past years to attract new talent to the workforce, and Darby says that until industry makes an appeal to underrepresented groups, this fact isn’t likely to change.

“The pipeline of new entrants has been really, really slow through the pandemic,” said Darby, pointing toward women, people of colour, Indigenous people and new Canadians as potential keys to getting that training pipeline flowing smoothly again.

More than 70 percent of the businesses involved in the CME survey said they have improved employee wages and benefits to attract new staff, but are looking toward the government for assistance in promoting the trades and Canadian immigration, in order to fill this widening gap of labour.

CME is also asking the government to increase the Canada Job Grant and make it permanent, provide tax credits to offset employee training costs and equipment purchases, and speed up the temporary foreign worker program.

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