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Detailed information on local labour markets is critical for business decision-making on where to locate, how to find staff, and how to grow a business. That’s why a clear request was sent to the federal government in a major report issued six years ago and again in an Auditor General’s report last year: Canada needs more localized data about its labour markets.

Last week, we got an answer to that request with Statistics Canada’s first release of the new quarterly Job Vacancy and Wage Survey (JVWS). It offers a new trove of data by region and by occupation that’s worth highlighting.

Which jobs are employers having the most difficulty filling and where are they? The JVWS answers that question and others with data for 76 economic regions and across as many as 500 occupations per region. It is a quarterly and distinct complement to the existing monthly Job Vacancy Survey, which is a lead indicator of vacant jobs, i.e., what are the trends and which industries seem to be improving or worsening. And as with any data release, there are caveats with the new survey; for example, if only one company is hiring in a city or region, its vacancies may be blocked for confidentiality reasons.

Businesses can now see how tight their regional labour markets are, based on the job vacancy rate, and how much competition there is to fill their positions. Job seekers can pinpoint by major city and region the numbers of openings in their occupations. This kind of detail, based on a survey that will reach 100,000 businesses, shows what federal funding can accomplish.

The Canadian Chamber welcomes the investment of $8 million a year for the new job vacancy survey, as the JVWS is the single most significant addition to national LMI in the past several years. Addressing one of the key gaps cited in the Canadian Chamber’s recent LMI report card, it’s a move to be applauded and repeated elsewhere in the LMI portfolio by the next government. 

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