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Canada – Nobody has stepped forward to drive a national program for better labour market information says Don Drummond

Canada has poor labour market information and as a result we do not have answers to simple questions that affect Canadians’ livelihoods. Employers complain they cannot find enough Canada flagskilled workers, yet the Canadian unemployment rate is far from its lowest level. Does Canada not have enough workers or are they in the wrong places with the wrong skills? Why are wages not rising more sharply in occupations in demand? In the past, graduates of general college and university programs have done well economically and socially. Should young people disregard the record and heed suggestions there won’t be good jobs for them? The Canada Job Grant is being introduced to encourage employers to provide more training to their workers; but how much training and what kind of training do employers now provide?

The federal, provincial and territorial governments were concerned about not having answers to similar questions in 2008, and through the Forum of Labour Market Ministers FLMM struck an Advisory Panel on Labour Market Information, of which I was the chair. The Panel made 69 recommendations that, at an annual cost of less than $49-million and spread across 14 governments, would have provided answers to the questions above and a great number of others. Jason Kenney, federal Minister of Employment and Social Development, recently claimed two-thirds of the recommendations have been or are in the process of being implemented. Unfortunately, many more are in process than accomplished. And most of those in process are in early stages of preparation. Meanwhile, even some of the information available in 2008 has been jeopardized by successive budget cuts, particularly to Statistics Canada, the main provider of labour market information.

As I argue in a paper for the Institute for Research on Public Policy, the main reason so little progress has been made is that no entity has stepped forward to drive a national program to collect, disseminate and explain better information. The Advisory Panel naturally recommended the FLMM play this co-ordinating role. But they have not taken up the mantle of leadership.

Don Drummond is the Matthews Fellow in Global Public Policy, Queens University, and was Chair of the Advisory Panel on Labour Market Information in 2008-09.

Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at If we want better jobs data, our governments have to lead – The Globe and Mail.

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