The skills needed for the modern workforce have changed and now is the time to adapt.
The mismatch of the skills people have and what employers need is nothing new. It has been a growing issue for a while. Chambers of commerce across the province have been
advocating for this to be
addressed for years.
We’re now at the point where we can’t put this off much longer. COVID-19 has changed the workplace at a rapid pace. Millions of workers have suffered job loss and unemployment
numbers continue to
fluctuate. Yet according to a study by the Brookfield Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, one fifth of Canadian businesses expect to face labour shortage issues in the next three months. This rises to nearly a third for businesses with more than 20 employees. Nine percent of businesses across Canada stated that over the next year they plan to hire staff with skills or knowledge that their current employees lack.
The impact of COVID-19 on the labour market is still evolving, but both the federal and provincial governments have rolled out programs aimed at helping people re-skill.
The Government of Canada is planning to invest $30 billion in workforce support over the next five years. They’re
investing in labour force research, development of training programs,
recruitment and retention programs for businesses.
Look for new
government-subsidized skills development and training programs to roll out in the near future. The government is also looking for businesses and organizations that have high potential for growth to invest in for further training
and work placement programs.
The federal government plans to roll out a new Canada Recovery Hiring Program for eligible employers. The program will offset a portion of extra costs for employers
as they increase wages, hours, or hire more staff as part of their reopening.
The Province is working closely with post-secondary institutions, employers, and industry to develop rapid training programs to help people retrain and upgrade their skills.
Micro-credentials are rapid training programs offered by colleges, universities and
Indigenous Institutes across the province that can help people get the skills that employers need. They help people retrain and upgrade their skills to find new
• take less time to complete than degrees or diplomas
• may be completed online and may include on-the-job training
• many are created with
input from business sectors, so the skills being taught match employer needs
The Ontario Government is looking to invest in
post-secondary institutions that propose ways to use
training and education to drive economic recovery, increase job growth, and enhance community
partnerships. This builds on the province’s existing
This is the time to invest in training and skills
development. For anyone who has been thinking about upgrading their skills or learning new ones, this is the time to do it. There are a host of new programs rolling out offering new skills and certifications. There are also new programs to subsidize both some of the costs of getting trained as well as the costs of hiring.
If you are an employer
struggling to find people with certain skills, now is the time to reach out to our local
post-secondary institutions and work together to help create the programs your workforce needs.
The programs that are rolling out are too good to pass up. There are new opportunities to invest in ourselves and our employees that will help us all grow and thrive.
The federal budget, the first in two years, is out and the Government of Canada is offering continued support and investments for businesses through this public health crisis while offering new funding for programs and projects for our recovery.
VIA High Frequency Rail Project
The federal government established a Joint Project Office to explore VIA Rail Canada’s high frequency rail project in 2019. The project has the potential to transform passenger rail service in the Toronto-Quebec City corridor, offering faster, more reliable service, and helping to encourage the shift to rail from more polluting modes of transportation. The proposal includes service to
The 2021 Budget includes $4.4 million in 2021/2022 to Transport Canada and VIA Rail to support their work with the Joint Project Office in order to advance due diligence and to de-risk the project. The budget also provides $491.2 million over six years to VIA Rail for infrastructure investments that would support the overall success of the high frequency rail project. These investments will help reduce bottlenecks, improve fluidity and connectivity, and allow VIA to take an important step towards high frequency rail in the corridor. The budget stops short of committing funding to build the rail line itself, a commitment made in the mandate letter for the Minister of Transport.
The emergency rent and wage subsidies are
extended until Sept. 25, but will decrease starting July 4. The phase out is expected to coincide with increased
vaccinations and the economy reopening.
The government is also investing $5 million over two years to have Statistics Canada work with partners to enhance the available data and ensure the support measures are responsive to the needs of businesses and entrepreneurs.
The budget includes financial support for businesses to transition to digital, including capital expenses, access to financing, broadband internet access, and cyber security.
There is also renewed
emphasis on reducing interprovincial trade barriers.
The Government of Canada is pushing for a green recovery, including credits for
businesses that reduce their emissions, a 50% tax reduction for companies that manufacture zero emission technologies, and investments in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Workforce challenges have been identified as an area needing more support as businesses continue to adapt to the needs of a changing economy and consumer base. The budget includes the creation of the Canada
Recovery Hiring Program to help the hardest hit businesses hire staff when they are ready for recovery as well as programs aimed at reskilling and upskilling to get Canadians back to work. The government plans to produce better data on labour market demand in individual communities and build talent pipelines based on employer needs.
The budget calls for
substantial investments in Employment and Social
Development Canada for training, skills development, and assistance to help
businesses recruit and retain a diverse and inclusive workforce.
Budget 2021 proposes new investments totaling up to $30 billion over the next five years, and $8.3 billion ongoing, for Early Learning and Child Care and Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care. This includes a 50% reduction in the average fees for early learning and childcare with the goal of averaging $10 a day by 2025/26 for regulated child care spaces. The budget also calls for 40,000 new spaces and expanded before and after school care.
Tourism & Culture
Tourism, festivals, and cultural sectors are getting a $1 billion boost, including:
• $200 million through the regional development agencies to support major festivals.
• $200 million through Canadian Heritage to support local festivals, community cultural events, outdoor theatre performances, heritage celebrations, local museums, amateur sport events, and others.
• $100 million to
Destination Canada for
• $500 million Tourism Relief Fund, administered by the
• The budget proposes to invest an additional $430
million in additional supports for the heritage, performing arts, sports, musicians and music venues, and cultural spaces.
All of this support and relief comes at a cost. The 2019 federal budget projected a $19 billion deficit. This budget shows a deficit of $354 billion last year and a projected deficit of $154.7 billion this year, increasing our current national debt to $1.41 trillion dollars by 2025-26.
Now is indeed the time to invest in our businesses, our society, and our recovery, but we need to keep in mind that it will be through economic growth that we begin to pay back this borrowed money. Our businesses need the support and resources to hire, expand, and drive our economy forward.
The Business Summit is back and this year it’s going virtual! This free event is a chance for businesses to network, build skills, and learn about the latest business trends and best practices.
The summit is being hosted by the Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce and Peterborough and the Kawarthas Economic Development & includes a series of workshops,
webinars, networking events and guest speakers during the week of April 19 – 23.
Our keynote speaker, Craig Ryan, kicks off the summit on Monday, April 19, at 10 AM. Craig is the Director of Sustainability and Environmental and Social Governance at the Business Development Bank of Canada. His presentation is on The Path Forward: What Lies Ahead for Canadian Business Owners? One year after the onset of the pandemic in Canada, we are looking beyond the near term to identify what Canadian small and medium-sized businesses need to do to survive and succeed in a post-COVID-19 world.
On Wednesday, April 21st, at 4 pm the Business Summit will host a Funders' Forum moderated by Heather Hallahan, senior account manager with the Business Development Bank of Canada. The forum will host panelists Gail Moorhouse of Community Futures Peterborough, Ann-Marie Kelleher-Byers of the Federal Economic
Development Agency for Southern Ontario, Trevor Crowe of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, and Kim Freeburn of The CFO Centre Canada. The panel will discuss financial resources, opportunities, and best practices.
The week features some helpful workshops, including:
• Photography — Local photographer Heather Doughty will walk you through some key strategies for taking photos of your products/services to make them stand out. As things go more and more online, having high quality visuals plays a big role for sales and branding.
• Email Marketing — Connecting with your customers is challenging, especially when they aren’t able to shop like they used to. Email marketing is an important point of contact to drive sales and engage your patrons. We’re hosting Diane Barr from Constant Contact to provide her expertise on email marketing and answer your questions.
• Inventory Management — One of the biggest barriers for online retail is inventory management. Darryl Julott, Managing Lead at Digital Main Street, will walk you through online sales and inventory processes that are working for businesses across Ontario.
• Customer Experience — Join author and founder of Zero In, Dennis Geelen, in this high-energy, interactive workshop focusing on giving your customers the
experience that will keep them coming back and telling their friends about you.
The week will also feature a series of webinars on topics including wellness in the workplace, soft skills, cyber security, and communication technology.
The 2021 Business Summit features daily networking tournaments to help you make new connections and engage the local business community.
Find out more about what’s happening and get your free tickets at
The business community is in a time of rapid change. We’re now getting a better picture of just what has changed.
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce, Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC), and Palette Inc. partnered with the Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship (BII+E) to analyse business trends throughout the course of the pandemic using Statistics Canada’s Canadian Survey on Business Conditions, which includes feedback from 15,400 businesses.
The finance and insurance industry is leading the way in online sales with 20% of businesses in this industry reporting that 60% or more of their sales are online. As a whole, 9% of Canadian business report making 60% or more of their sales online in 2020, up from 6% in 2019. On the other end of the
online sales spectrum, the number of businesses in
Canada making less than 1% of their sales online
decreased from 83% to 78%.
Only 7% of retailers report making 60% or more of their sales online, up from 5% in 2019. Despite this, online sales as a whole increased from 3.5% to 5.9% of total retail sales in 2020. Just the month of December, a key time for
retail, saw an increase of 69.3% in online sales.
There is a lot to unpack from all of this. The shift to online takes more than a willingness to adapt. While businesses with 1 – 4 employees make up a significant number of online retailers, the study finds a direct correlation between those currently adapting and the size of the business. Bigger businesses have more ability to plan and adapt than a smaller
operation where owners and staff have a much wider range of roles and
expectations. Businesses that have been more able to adapt to remote work, like finance and insurance, have adapted faster to
selling online. Other
industries, like arts and entertainment, have been leaders in online sales, but have struggled through the pandemic due to restrictions on their ability to provide their product.
It’s no surprise that
businesses that have been able to shift to working at home are better positioned to weather the pandemic and the resulting health
employment fell by 213,000 in January 2021 while the number of people working from home increased by nearly 700,000. Most of the job losses were focused on sectors with less ability to work remotely.
Again, larger businesses had an easier time adapting to the shift to remote work as they tend to have more resources to create flexible work
arrangements. More than 70% of firms in professional, scientific, and technical
services, finance and
insurance, and information and cultural industries
reported that remote work was a possibility.
This has implications on physical business locations as 8% of businesses report that it’s likely they will reduce their physical space after the pandemic. Businesses also report an increase in plans to hire employees outside their region.
The impact of COVID-19 on the labour market is still evolving. Millions of workers have suffered job loss and unemployment numbers
continue to fluctuate. Yet one fifth of Canadian businesses expect to face labour shortage
issues in the next three months. This rises to nearly a third for businesses with more than 20 employees.
In the first quarter of 2021, 9% of businesses across Canada stated that over the next year they plan to hire staff with skills or knowledge that their current employees lack. A larger proportion of businesses have plans to train existing employees for new skills compared to those planning to hire new employees with different skill sets, suggesting a stronger inclination towards upskilling the existing workforce rather than looking elsewhere for new talent.
Again, larger businesses are more likely to see an increase in the number of employees over the next 3 months.
Where is this taking us?
The shift is here to stay. 17% of businesses report it is likely they will continue to provide remote work options.
Businesses working on plans to shift more sales online aren’t planning to slow that momentum when this pandemic is over. The skills businesses are looking for are skills they need to continue this shift.
It’s also evident that smaller businesses have to work harder than their larger counterparts to keep up, especially in our hardest hit sectors. As we move forward, we need to make sure the supports are there for small and medium-sized enterprises to thrive and succeed in this shift. We’ll eventually get through this pandemic, but online sales, remote work, and changing demands for skills aren’t going away.
The Peterborough and the Kawarthas Chamber of Commerce acts as a catalyst to enhance business growth, opportunity, innovation, partnerships and a diverse business community.