After the Great Resignation, where did all the Canadian workers go? – CBC.ca
Restaurants, airlines, schools and nursing homes are at the sharp end of a labour crunch that’s afflicted employers all year long. In June,the unemployment rate fell to a record low of 4.9 per cent, tightening the screws on an economy with more positions than it could fill.
Amid a prolonged pandemic, laid-off workers took stock and reassessed their priorities. Others, grappling with burnout in precarious or stressful work environments with long hours, simply walked away.
Some of the hardest hit sectors are struggling to find and retain workers. Wages have increased, but signs suggest some of that growth is slowing. Although retail employment is up from 2021, when public health restrictions kept many stores partially or fully closed, payroll employment dropped in both April and May, Statistics Canada data released Thursday shows.
Job vacancies in the health-care sector rose in May, StatCan reported, and are up 20 per cent from the same month last year. Meanwhile, the number of openings remained steady in accommodation and food services, but there are twice as many of them as the overall average.
So if workers are leaving their jobs, where are they going?
Back to school. Back to yoga. Toward public office, Uber driving, sales and writing.
Here are their stories.
‘I would shake at work’: From flight attendant to city council candidate
Pascale Marchand is poised to leap from the skies to city hall.
Or hopes to. The 39-year-old union official and former flight attendant opted to run for municipal council in Hamilton, Ont., this fall after a trying two years in an industry battered by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Marchand, who started her cabin crew job in 2008, grew increasingly interested in her colleagues’ well-being, chairing several health and safety committees at the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) since 2018.
“I got to see how important the social determinants of health are to people’s health. Just ensuring that they have a steady income, ensuring they have job security, ensuring that they have the availability of having sick days,” she said.
Municipal policies in areas ranging from housing to quality of life and the local economy can have a direct impact on those determinants, she says. “That’s why I’m going into politics. I’m trying to make a difference at that end.”
There’s an even more personal fire fuelling her run for office too. In March 2020, Marchand found herself snowed under with calls from fellow flight attendants as angst and uncertainty swirled around a novel coronavirus.
“They were very concerned that their employment could potentially threaten the health of their loved ones,” she recalls.
“By the first week of March I had burnout. I would shake at work because of this pressure of wanting to make things better for our membership.”
Marchand says her younger brother, who lives with mental health issues, went through a crisis in 2020, losing his job and experiencing homelessness for three months.
After tracking him down and helping him move in with their mother in New Brunswick, Marchand opted to access counselling and cognitive therapy services as well as a union support network, “which has helped me tremendously.”
She had enrolled in a bachelor’s program in public health at Brock University in 2018, graduating this year. But it was her experience of people’s vulnerability to social, economic and psychological strain brought on by the pandemic that drove her to seek public office.
“I have a lot of hope inside of me and I have a lot of energy inside of me. I just want to do the best I can to use my voice to try and elevate others.”
By Christopher Reynolds in Montreal
‘I became numb’: From support worker to yoga instructor
Growing up, Lindsay Couture thought she was meant to take care of people. From the age of 11, she was the primary caregiver for her mother who had respiratory issues. When it came time to decide on her career, she figured, why not stick to what she already knew?
Couture began working as a personal support worker in 2016 at a private long-term care home in Port Hope, Ont. Most days she’d work double shifts from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., dealing with intense pressure from upper management, combative residents, and what she described as extremely challenging working conditions.
“Long-term care was a very sad environment for me because I was unable to provide the care that a lot of residents needed,” the 29-year-old said. “Even though I still showed up for those 16-hour shifts, I became numb.”
Eventually, Couture stopped taking care of herself as her mental health steadily declined. In 2018, she went on disability leave.
After taking a year off, she was ready to work as a PSW again, but wanted to do it on her own terms. So, she opened her own community care company.
Months later, the COVID-19 pandemic hit. As it dragged on, and PSWs left the field in droves, it became increasingly hard for Couture to hire workers and provide high-quality care.
Despite feelings of shame and guilt, Couture closed her company in January to avoid burning out again. She continued to provide private care for one last client until May.
Now, Couture works as a yoga instructor and Reiki practitioner. At first, yoga was an easy way to support herself after leaving her career as a PSW — she was already certified to teach — but she’s found it’s allowed her to remain an entrepreneur with control over her schedule.
She also drives for Uber as a side gig, which alone makes her more money than her full-time job as a PSW did.
“I am so happy to be out of a profession that I truly feel is going nowhere,” she said.
While working her new jobs, Couture is able to prioritize her mental health, find enough energy for work and put herself first before supporting others.
“I’m still helping people, but I’m helping people remove the barriers that are keeping them stuck in their lives … showing them that we do have choice in this life.”
By Tyler Griffin in Toronto
‘You’re always there’: From teacher to salesperson
When Guillaume Raymond sat down in front of a blank sheet a year ago to list the benefits of working in Quebec’s education system, he fell short of items to write down.
“I’ve been working since I’m 14 … either as a soccer referee, or babysitter, I’ve always loved to work,” said Raymond, a 33-year-old former physical education teacher.
“But teaching is by far the most demanding job I’ve ever had in my life. You see about 150 kids each day in the gymnasium, it’s exhausting … there’s no recognition.”
After teaching for four years at College Notre-Dame-de-Lourdes, a private high school on Montreal’s south shore, Raymond started to feel worn out.
“As a teacher, you’re supposed to work around 28 hours per week, but at the end, you’re there closer to 60 hours (per week),” Raymond said. “You’re always there … but the salary doesn’t add up.”
The pandemic, he says, was an additional strain as it greatly limited how he could share his passion for sports.
“I did my best to find ways to do virtual activities … and I was criticized for asking too much … but it’s my profession and it’s as important as French and mathematics,” he said.
The Quebec Provincial Association of Teachers says about a third of young teachers will leave the profession — one of the several industries facing a labour shortage — within five years due to poor working conditions.
Data released by Statistics Canada in 2020 suggests Quebec’s teachers earn the lowest salary compared with the rest of the country; Quebec teachers’ starting salary sits at about $45,000 — the only province where it’s below $50,000.
“The labour shortage is sad for the children,” Raymond said.
“I do have the feeling that I abandoned the children, but I needed to think about myself. The education system is broken, and it’s not one teacher that’s going to make a difference but better salary, conditions, and recognition.”
Raymond, who now works as a sales consultant for Park Avenue Volkswagen in Brossard, Que., says leaving the education system not only helped with his finances, but also his mental health.
“I have better control over my life, I have less anxiety,” he said. “I bought a house with my girlfriend. I could have never done that if I were a teacher still.”
By Virginie Ann in Montreal
‘I’m not just treading water’: From server to writer
Lori Fox compares working as a restaurant server to being a low-paid, undervalued caretaker of too many drunk and rude customers seemingly empowered to get away with sexual harassment and punishing behaviour in the form of lousy tips.
Fox left the industry in the spring of 2020 when an eatery in Whitehorse closed temporarily due to the pandemic. But that decision had been brewing for at least two years when an intoxicated Canada Day celebrant who refused to pay his bill unleashed a flurry of “transphobic, homophobic and misogynist slurs that were made very publicly.”
“My manager informed me that this was just a gentleman that he knew personally, who was having a really bad day and I should just bring him another beer and then he would pay his bill,” said Fox, 35, who uses the pronouns they and them.
“It was around that point that I was emotionally finished serving. But I wasn’t able to leave, however, until the pandemic actually forced me out of the industry.”
Fox began working at a pizza joint in Belleville, Ont., at age 14 before starting their career as a server three years later. They took those skills to Whitehorse, where they have lived for a decade, with stints in Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa, as well as three communities in British Columbia.
Regardless of the location, however, the experience was mostly the same: restaurateurs focusing on keeping patrons, especially regulars, happy at the expense of protecting staff that, in many cases, work long, irregular hours for low wages.
There are lessons to be learned from the pandemic for not only workers, but the restaurant industry as a whole, they say.
“I feel that we are at a pivotal moment where either we can slide back into the slot we have always occupied in this industry or we can move forward and make some actual changes that give more power to workers and create living wages and create better work environments.”
Fox, who has turned a previous side hustle as a freelance writer into more of a permanent job, says the work isn’t always easy, but it’s more fulfilling.
“I definitely feel more physically and emotionally safe. At least when things are hard, they’re hard because I’m doing work that I find valuable and that I know is moving me forward. I’m not just treading water.”
By Camille Bains in Vancouver
‘I don’t have the capacity to do this’: From nurse to student
Daniel Bois never imagined himself quitting his job but as he handed over his letter of resignation, a sense of relief settled over him.
At 46 years old, he’d worked as a registered nurse for more than two decades. He’d seen three pandemics (SARS, H1N1 and COVID-19) by the time he quit his job as a manager in the primary care unit of a downtown Toronto hospital in April 2022.
“I just reached a point where I was like, ‘I can’t do this anymore. I don’t have the capacity to do this, and I want to do something different,'” Bois said.
He’d felt burnout before, but in the COVID-19 pandemic there was no opportunity to stop and heal, he says.
The pandemic put stress on just about every health-care worker in the country. Unions and hospitals have reported nurses quitting in droves, no longer feeling like they were able to serve their patients.
As a manager, Bois wasn’t sure if he was able to properly take care of his employees either.
“I often felt like I was playing catch-up and putting out many fires, whether it was supply shortages, staffing shortages, issues with vaccination,” he said.
“It was to the detriment of my physical, my mental and spiritual health.”
Before he left his job he started working on an exit strategy: a business degree.
The thought of leaving his career as a nurse left him with mixed feelings of nervousness and excitement as he committed to drop his hospital duties and pursue a new education instead.
Along with those feelings also came guilt, for leaving health care during a global pandemic.
He did what he could to ease the transition for his co-workers. He gave his executive director nine weeks notice, so they could hire and train a new manager before he left.
Now a full-time student, Bois says he’s sleeping better, eating three meals a day and exercising.
“I’m healthier for having left health care,” he said.
Bois says he’s not planning to leave the health-care industry permanently. He hopes to graduate from business school after the fall session, and plans to become a registered massage therapist.
After that, he wants to open his own mental-health clinic for health-care workers in Toronto.
“My way of reconciling my guilt is going back into the workforce as a mental-health and wellness entrepreneur and support health-care workers in a different way.”
By Laura Osman in Ottawa
Biden in Canada: Replay coverage of the U.S. president's trip – CTV News
After a day of meetings on Parliament Hill, U.S President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced updates on various cross-border issues. These include plans to bolster Norad and expand the Safe Third Country Agreement.
CTVNews.ca breaks down Biden’s first presidential visit to Canada, as it happened. Scroll down for our reporters’ real-time coverage of the second day of Biden’s trip to Canada as it unfolded.
Canadians can also access the latest stories on Biden’s trip via CTV News’ social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter.
Canada extends support for those fleeing Russia's illegal and unjustifiable invasion of Ukraine – Canada.ca
March 22, 2023—Ottawa—As Russia continues its illegal and unjustifiable invasion of Ukraine, Canada will remain steadfast in its support for those who have been forced to flee. This includes helping people find a temporary safe haven in Canada and providing them with the support they need.
Today, the Honourable Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, announced that the Government of Canada will extend the Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel (CUAET). This means that:
- Ukrainians and their family members will have until July 15, 2023, to apply overseas for a CUAET visa free of charge;
- Anyone holding a CUAET visa will have until March 31, 2024, to travel to Canada under the special measures; and
- CUAET holders who are already here in Canada will have until March 31, 2024, to extend or adjust their temporary status through these measures, free of charge.
Settlement services will remain available to Ukrainians and their family members after they arrive so that they can fully participate in Canadian communities while they are here. Ukrainians and their family members will also continue to benefit from the one-time transitional financial support, as well as from access to emergency accommodations for up to 2 weeks, if needed after they arrive in Canada.
The Government of Canada continues to work closely with provincial, territorial and municipal partners, as well as settlement service providers and the Ukrainian-Canadian community, to welcome Ukrainians fleeing Russia’s illegal war.
These measures build on the Government of Canada’s previous actions to support Ukraine’s security and resilience and to hold Russia accountable for its atrocities and crimes. We are closely monitoring the ongoing needs of Ukrainians and will adapt our response as needed.
Calling for closer Canada-U.S. ties, Biden says 'our destinies are intertwined and they're inseparable' – CBC.ca
U.S. President Joe Biden delivered an impassioned speech in the House of Commons Friday, saying the Canada-U.S. relationship has never been stronger while calling for even closer ties to take on the challenges of our times.
Standing in front of the Speaker’s chair as hundreds of MPs, senators and dignitaries looked on, Biden said Canadians and Americans are “two people” that “share one heart” — bound together not only by geography and history but shared democratic values.
In his nearly 40-minute speech, Biden said that, together, the two countries are an unstoppable force that can tackle climate change, a changing economy and an increasingly dangerous world, where authoritarian countries like Russia are bent on defying international norms.
The partnership, he said, extends to space — three Americans and a Canadian will soon be headed for the moon as part of the NASA Artemis program.
“Our destinies are intertwined and they’re inseparable,” Biden said.
“I mean this from the bottom of my heart. There is no more reliable ally, no more steady friend. And today I say to you, you will always be able to count on the United States of America.”
WATCH: We will find ‘no more steady friend’ than Canada: Biden
Together, Biden said, Canada and the U.S. will confront the “scourge” of opioid overdoses.
He vowed to partner with Mexico to tackle the illicit trade in fentanyl, which has wreaked havoc on vulnerable communities throughout North America.
Trudeau, Biden reach agreements during two-day visit
- Canada and the U.S. will expand the Safe Third Country Agreement to the entire land border — a move designed to halt illegal border crossing by migrants. Canada will instead accept up to 15,000 migrants from the Western Hemisphere through legal channels.
- Canada will invest $420 million to protect the Great Lakes as part of a binational effort to defend one of the world’s largest sources of freshwater.
- Canada made a $7.3 billion commitment to air defence to support the continued functioning of NORAD.
- Canada agreed to provide $100 million to support the Haitian police.
- The U.S. will commit roughly $250 million to Canadian and U.S. companies that mine and process critical minerals for electric vehicles and stationary storage batteries.
- Canada and New York-based IBM signed a deal to expand domestic research and development and advanced packaging of semiconductors.
- Biden expressed support for Canada joining the U.S.-led Indo-Pacific Economic Framework
Referencing a deal on migrants, Biden said Canada and the U.S. will safely resettle asylum seekers through a new, more organized process that discourages illegal immigration.
“We believe to our core that every single person deserves to live in dignity, safety and rise as high as their dreams can carry them,” Biden said.
On semiconductors, critical minerals, advanced manufacturing and a pivot to a cleaner, greener economy, Biden said Canada and the U.S. are up to the challenge — ready to work in concert to challenge the dominance of countries like China in these areas.
“After two years of COVID, people began to even wonder, ‘Can we still do big things?’ I say we sure in hell can,” Biden said to thunderous applause from the assembled crowd.
While there are irritants in any relationship, Biden said, Canada and the U.S. are determined to “solve our differences in friendship and with good will, because we both understand our interests are fundamentally aligned.”
WATCH: ‘I like your teams, except the Leafs’: Biden addresses Parliament
Biden joked about the Toronto Maple Leafs (“I like your teams, except the Leafs,” he said to laughter and scattered boos from the crowd) and razzed some MPs who failed to stand and applaud after he praised Canada and the U.S. for having gender equal cabinets.
“Even if you don’t agree guys, I’d stand up,” he said.
He also raised a recent Gallup poll that found Americans have an overwhelmingly positive view of Canadians.
The poll found 88 per cent of U.S. respondents think highly of their neighbours to the north — up from 87 per cent last year. “I take credit for that one point,” Biden said.
In his introductory speech, Trudeau hit many of the same points. He called on Canadians and Americans to come together as storm clouds gather in other parts of the world.
“It has never been clearer that everything is interwoven,” he said. “Economic policy is climate policy is security policy. People need us to think strategically and act with urgency, and that is exactly what brings us together today.”
WATCH: U.S.-Canada border is a ‘meeting place rather than dividing line’: Trudeau
As conflict rages in Europe and inflation bears down on working people, Trudeau said the two countries have faced all of this before.
Citing a 1987 address by former U.S. president Ronald Reagan, who called the Canada-U.S. border a “meeting place rather than a dividing line,” Trudeau said the border is “not just a place where we meet each other. It’s a place where we will meet the moment.”
Touting recent investments in a Michelin tire plant in Nova Scotia, and plans to retool the Defasco steel factory in Hamilton, Ont., Trudeau said Canada is ready to work with the U.S. to take on economic competition from “an increasingly assertive China.”
“We must continue to show resilience, perseverance and strength,” Trudeau said, citing the example of Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, the two Canadians who suffered arbitrary detention in China for more than 1,000 days.
Kovrig and Spavor were on hand in the Commons for Friday’s events. Trudeau thanked Biden for his help in securing their release.
With two of its citizens in captivity, Trudeau said, Canada did “not capitulate, we did not abandon our values — we doubled down. We rallied our allies. The rule of law prevailed and the Michaels came home.”
“God bless ya,” Biden said as he recognized Spavor and Kovrig in the gallery above.
Earlier today, Biden was escorted by Trudeau into the West Block where he briefly greeted dignitaries, including Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre, other party leaders, senators, the House of Commons Speaker and parliamentary clerks.
Poilievre introduced himself as the leader of his “His Majesty’s Loyal Opposition,” which prompted Biden to quip, “Loyal, huh?”
Green Party Leader Elizabeth May then handed a bemused Biden a chocolate bar made by a Syrian refugee before he was whisked away for a one-on-one meeting with Trudeau.
The busy day followed an intimate gathering last night at Trudeau’s Ottawa home, Rideau Cottage. Trudeau, with his wife Sophie and their three kids, hosted the president and his wife, Jill.
This is the first non-summit overnight visit by a U.S. president in nearly two decades.
It was billed as a chance for Biden and Trudeau to continue their efforts to renew the bilateral relationship, which was marked by some tension in recent years.
The Trump years were a trying time for Canadian officials.
But Biden’s decision to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline, promote protectionist policies like Buy American and withhold some vaccine supplies were also irritants in the early days of his presidency.
Since then, there’s been meaningful progress on key files: a deal to protect the NEXUS trusted traveller program and a plan to include Canadian-made vehicles in a U.S. electric vehicle tax credit program.
WATCH: U.S. and Canada reach deal on closing Roxham Road border crossing:
And now there is a deal in hand that will allow Canada to close the Roxham Road site, where tens of thousands of refugee claimants have crossed the border irregularly in recent years — a political headache for Trudeau.
The U.S. has been eager to see Canada take a leadership role in efforts to restore order in Haiti, which has descended into chaos in recent months as gangs have tightened their grip on some parts of the Caribbean country.
So far, Canada has resisted pressure to deploy troops.
But after meeting with Biden, Trudeau commited roughly $100 million to the Haitian police.
The funding comes after the UN expressed grave concern for Haiti, saying “extreme violence continues to spiral out of control.”
Biden and Trudeau also had the economy on their minds during the visit.
Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) — which was really a climate-change bill, despite its name — includes major tax breaks for companies that pursue green-friendly projects.
Canada is racing to compete — and there may be a role for Canadian businesses to play as the U.S. retools its economy to make it cleaner and greener.
Speaking to reporters at a press conference following his address, Biden said the IRA shouldn’t be seen as a threat to Canada.
He said the U.S. plan to spend billions through the IRA and CHIPS Act, which offers tax breaks to semiconductor companies that manufacture in the U.S., will have spillover effects for Canada.
“We each have what the other needs,” Biden said. “I’m a little confused on why this is a disadvantage for Canada.”
He said U.S. businesses need to tap Canada’s abundance of critical minerals — an industry that currently is dominated by China, an increasingly unreliable business partner.
“We don’t have the minerals to mine, you can mine them. You don’t want to produce, I mean, turn them into product,” Biden said.
WATCH: Biden, Trudeau speak to media in Ottawa
Canada would dispute Biden’s characterization of the critical minerals file.
The federal government has raced to sign multi-billion dollar contracts with major car companies like Stellantis and Volkswagen, which will use Canadian natural resources to manufacture components for electric vehicles.
The economist Harold Innis once described Canadians as “hewers of wood and drawers of water,” a reference to Canada’s long economic dependence on resources.
Trudeau said Friday Canada doesn’t just extract minerals and ship them off.
“The world is understanding they can no longer rely on places like China or Russia,” he said. “They can rely on Canada to not just be a purveyor of ores, but of finished materials.”
WATCH: When U.S. presidents came to Parliament
The Biden trip comes just after Chinese President Xi Jinping visited with another authoritarian leader in Moscow — Russian President Vladimir Putin.
While China cozies up to Russia, Biden framed his trip as a way to bolster relations with a close ally and friend, a democratic Canada.
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