With the world making a major shift to remote work since 2020, some businesses have slowly began reverting back to in-person work this year, while many are pushing forward with the newfound love for remote work and the advantages that it has brought to their businesses. One such advantage is capitalizing on talent and skills that the remote work model opens the doors to. No longer are businesses bound by the talent in their surrounding geographic location and those companies that has ventured outside of their town, city, or even country, have welcomed a pool of talent full of diversity.
In a report published by Robert Half based on a survey done in Canada earlier this year, an astounding 85% of Canadian workers say they’re interested in hybrid or fully remote positions with 25% of Canadian workers say they would would take a pay cut if it meant their work was entirely remote, and 77% of Canadian workers feel more productive when they work remotely. It is no surprise that Canada is now facing a dire situation with Canadian skilled workers being lured away by Global companies who’d be happy to have them work remotely.
Canada on a global stage has always been an attractive immigration destination for skilled workers from other countries. Being neighbours to the biggest economy to the world, Canada has benefited from US companies expanding to Canada for many years. Earlier this year, the Canadian government even introduced a new work permit targeting US-based skilled workers. Foreigners living in the US on H-1B visas are eligible for a three-year work permits, which allows them to work for any employer in Canada and their spouses are also free to pursue employment. Up to 10,000 applications for such visas were opened and within 48 hours the requested have maxed out of the applications. This is just one of many examples that goes to show that Canada is an attractive destination for skilled workers from around the world. And even with an intake of over 30,000 tech workers to Canada from abroad within the last year, Canada saw a net loss of over 1700 tech workers to other countries with the main destination to the US. It is in fact a very dangerous double-edge sword.
Not only is Canada losing talent to the US, in some cases, it is losing new start ups and business entirely taking their talents with them. This is usually caused by government programs with heavy subsidies and other incentives luring businesses there. One such example is in the multi-billion-dollar clean energy industry.
Furthermore, when Canada isn’t losing its businesses and startups to other countries, it’s losing the battle on Canadian talent to US based companies due to the difference in compensation for comparable jobs. In a report done by the Technology Councils of North America (TECNA) and Canada’s Tech Network (CTN), they found that comparable jobs in the US could earn between $22,000 to $146,000 CAD more.
Another major contributor to the exit of skilled workers in Canada is due to high housing costs. With many workers already opting to move away from major city centers like the Toronto and Vancouver, many have moved to other provinces like New Brunswick, PEI, and Alberta. And with the series of interest rate increases taking it to its height in recent memory, even those options have looked less attractive and are pushing people to move out of the country altogether.
As we look at the economic landscape across Canada and comparing it to other desired countries around the world, there’s still a lot of work to be done by both the Canadian government and Canadian businesses. Not only has it become more and more difficult to attract talent to Canada, but it is also becoming increasingly difficult to retain talent in the country as well. We must all take a hard look at what we can offer to make Canada an attractive home for skilled workers and remain competitive in this tug-of-war for talent that is now becoming a fight on a global scale.
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