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Canada adds 245,800 jobs in August; pace of hiring slows as reopening shifts to new phase – The Globe and Mail

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A garment worker walks through a clothing factory in Montreal on Jan. 31, 2020.

Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press

Canada added 245,800 jobs in August, a weaker pace than in previous months and a sign that hiring plans are shifting into a new phase.

The unemployment rate declined to 10.2 per cent from July’s 10.9 per cent, Statistics Canada said on Friday. With August’s gains, the labour market has now recouped about 64 per cent of the three million positions that were lost between February and April, when the COVID-19 pandemic forced widespread shutdowns to slow virus transmission.

The labour market added 953,000 jobs in June and 419,000 in July.

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Recovering the remaining ground – about 1.1 million positions – is likely to be more challenging. Fewer COVID-19 restrictions are left to unwind, some businesses have permanently closed and others are struggling with less customer demand – all factors that could weigh on hiring.

“Labour markets are still exceptionally weak,” said Nathan Janzen, senior economist at Royal Bank of Canada, noting the current jobless rate is still above the peak of the 2008-09 recession. “The pace of the recovery going forward is an open question.”

Despite the uncertainty, Friday’s release included several encouraging signs. All of August’s employment gain came from the private sector, and most was in full-time jobs. As well, the labour-participation rate – the percentage of the total working-age population that are working or looking – rose to 64.6 per cent, within one percentage point of its level before COVID-19.

That “should allay some fears that generous income support is discouraging people from returning to the work force,” Andrew Grantham, senior economist at CIBC Capital Markets, said in a client note.

Friday’s report pertained to labour conditions between Aug. 9 and 15, meaning it accounted for further easing in Ontario. On July 31, the City of Toronto and nearby Peel Region moved into the third stage of the province’s reopening plan, which allowed the resumption of indoor restaurant dining and fitness classes, among other activities.

Employment in Ontario rose by 141,800 in August, the largest by province, with the gains almost entirely in full-time work. Employment jumped by 121,000 in the Toronto area.

“With provincial reopening plans having largely gone as far as they will go before a vaccine is available, we will be entering a new phase of the recovery where the path higher for employment is slower and potentially uneven,” Mr. Grantham said.

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The August report continued to highlight disparities. Employment for low-wage employees (those who earned less than $16.03 an hour, or two-thirds of the 2019 median wage) stands at 87.4 per cent of pre-COVID levels. For all other employees, the recovery is nearly complete, with employment at 99.1 per cent of where it stood before the pandemic.

Statscan noted that nearly one-third of Southeast Asian and one-quarter of Black Canadians were in the low-wage bracket, compared with 15.9 per cent for the white population. (The agency debuted employment figures by race in the July report.) The unemployment rate for racialized Canadians (15.2 per cent) was substantially higher in August than for white Canadians (9.4 per cent), much as in July.

For a third consecutive month, employment rose by more for women (150,000) than men (96,000). That said, women suffered deeper job losses as the pandemic hit. As a result, employment for women aged 25 to 54 is down 4.4 per cent since February, compared to a 3.4-per-cent drop among men in the same age group.

A key question for the fall is how effectively educational and child-care systems resume, and how that affects women’s labour participation.

Separately, plenty of ground remains to be recovered in the accommodation and food services industry. While employment rose by 48,900 last month, the pace of growth slowed; industry employment is still down more than 20 per cent since February. Jobs in information, culture and recreation are down 13 per cent since the pandemic started.

“Employment in those industries will probably remain subdued until we’re really past the virus risks,” Mr. Janzen said.

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That could be a long way off. With temperatures starting to fall, and with new virus cases creeping higher in some parts of the country, “there’s still the risk of virus resurgence” that looms over the labour recovery, Mr. Janzen said.

“That’s something that’s going to be a worry until we get an effective vaccine produced and distributed,” he added. “And as long as that risk is there, you’re going to still have some containment measures in place.”

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Amazon looks to fill 3,000 jobs at newest Vancouver tech hub – Vancouver Sun

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Online retail giant Amazon will be filling 3,000 new jobs at its latest tech hub, in the former downtown Vancouver post office.

Almost to 800 positions are already available, while the rest are expected to be filled when construction at The Post, between Georgia and Dunsmuir at Homer Street, nears completion in 2023, said Jesse Dougherty, an Amazon-vice president and Vancouver lead, in a statement.

“Amazon’s investment has tangible benefits for the broader economy and community — from the people we employ, to the small businesses we empower, to the charities we support, to the academic opportunities we fund. We’re proud to reaffirm our commitment to Canadian cities at this critical time,” said Dougherty.

The jobs span several departments across the company, including Alexa, Amazon advertising, retail and operations technology, and include roles such as software development engineers, user experience designers, speech scientists working to develop Alexa, cloud computing solutions architects, and sales and marketing executives.

It was previously reported that Amazon would be the sole corporate tenant at The Post, with plans to occupy 18 floors in the complex’s north tower and 17 floors in the south tower.

“The city of Vancouver is so excited to see Amazon creating an additional 3,000 well-paying jobs for people who want to work and live in our city,” said Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart in a statement. This “highlights the strength of our tech sector and shows that Vancouver is where companies want to establish themselves and grow.”

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Ford announces $1.8 billion investment to produce ‘fully battery electric vehicles’ in Canada – Electrek.co

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Ford announced today that it is investing $1.8 billion CAD to produce “fully battery electric vehicles” in Canada.

The announcement is part of a deal between Ford and Unifor, an important general trade union in Canada, on a new national labour agreement.

The deal includes several new benefits for Ford employees in Canada:

  • Competitive alternative work schedules to maximize production flexibility
  • Enhanced temporary employee program
  • 2.5% wage increase twice over the life of the agreement
  • C$7,250 ratification bonus for full-time permanent employees and $500 for temporary employees
  • Reduced grow-in period for new hires from 11 years to eight years

But they also negotiated a deal that should help bring some job security with a new deal to “transform Ford’s Oakville Assembly Complex from an internal combustion engine (ICE) site to also become a BEV manufacturing facility.”

They plan to invest $1.8 billion CAD ($1.35 billion USD) to start producing all-electric vehicles at the factory in Ontario, Canada:

“Based on the collective agreement ratified by employees today, Ford is committing to transform its Oakville Assembly Complex from an internal combustion engine (ICE) site to also become a BEV manufacturing facility, starting in 2024, as well as introducing a new engine program at its Windsor operations.”

Dean Stoneley, president and CEO of Ford of Canada, commented on the deal:

“Working collaboratively with Unifor, and as discussions continue with both the federal and provincial governments, this agreement is an important step toward building a stronger future for our employees, our customers and our communities. By introducing battery electric vehicle production at Oakville Assembly Complex, we are cementing our Canadian operations as a leader in advanced automotive manufacturing.”

The automaker didn’t confirm which electric vehicles it plans to produce in Canada.

Ford employs 3,600 people at the Oakville plant, where it produces the Ford Edge and Lincoln Nautilus.

Until recently, it was also producing the Ford Flex (2009–2019) and the Lincoln MKT (2010–2019).

In terms of electric vehicles, Ford produces the new Mustang Mach-E in Mexico and it plans to start production of the Ford F-150 Electric in Michigan in 2022.

Last month, Ford started construction on a new factory for its electric F-150 pickup truck at its current production site in Dearborn, Michigan.

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Amazon to hire 3,500 workers in B.C. and Ontario, expand office footprint – CBC.ca

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Amazon.com Inc. will hire 3,500 Canadians to work in spaces it is opening and expanding in British Columbia and Ontario.

The e-commerce giant revealed Monday that 3,000 of the jobs will be in Vancouver, where it is growing its footprint, and another 500 will be in Toronto, home of a new Amazon workspace.

Jesse Dougherty, Amazon’s vice-president and Vancouver site lead, said the company wanted to offer the jobs in Canada because the country has an “enormous” amount of tech talent Amazon is eager to tap into and accommodate at home.

“I look at it through the lens of how can we grow so that people don’t have to leave Canada to learn and take on amazing global challenges that are of a scale that aren’t typically available here?” he said.

The new corporate and tech jobs will include software development engineers, user experience designers, speech scientists working to make Alexa smarter, cloud computing solutions architects, and sales and marketing executives.

The bulk of the jobs will be done out of the Post, a Vancouver building where Amazon will take over an extra 63,000 square metres of office space. By 2023 it will be operating across 18 floors it is leasing in the building’s north tower and 17 in its south tower.

Vancouver has long been seen as an attractive Canadian outpost for companies because of its proximity to the U.S. and major tech hubs including Silicon Valley and Amazon’s headquarters in Seattle.

The company will also welcome new workers in Toronto, where it will lease 12,000 square metres over five floors at an 18 York St. building that is not far from investors on Bay Street. It hopes workers will be in the building next summer.

Competition from Shopify

Amazon’s renewed interest in its corporate and tech workforce and footprint in the country comes after focusing the bulk of its efforts in the market on its network of 16 fulfilment centres — 13 already in operation and another three coming in the Ontario cities of Hamilton, Ajax and Ottawa.

Those centres have faced homegrown competition from Shopify Inc., an Ottawa-based e-commerce business that has shot up the Toronto Stock Exchange to hold the title of country’s most valuable company several times this year.

While it was long known for providing the back-end for companies to sell goods online, Shopify launched its own fulfilment network in 2019 and bulked up its presence in Vancouver with 1,000 hires and a new office earlier this year.

Dougherty doesn’t appear to be nervous about Shopify.

“Amazon works in lots and lots of different businesses and all of them are highly competitive and we welcome that because it inevitably creates better experiences,” he said.

“There are other benefits to having other tech companies raise the bar in markets we work in because it educates more talent, you can move around and it creates more economic activity.”

Workplace concerns

Amazon has invested more than $11 billion in Canada, including infrastructure and compensation, delivered $9 billion to the country’s economy and helped create at least 67,000 jobs, Dougherty said.

However, many have those jobs have been dogged with concerns.

The Warehouse Workers Centre, a Brampton, Ont.-based organization representing people in the warehouse and logistics sector, started a petition earlier this year that garnered hundreds of signatures claiming “Amazon is failing to protect our health.”

The petition alleged that Amazon, which employs tens of thousands of people in Canada and has fulfilment centres in Ontario, British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba and Quebec, was refusing to give workers paid leave and not telling staff what their plans are if facilities are contaminated or suspected of being contaminated with COVID-19.

The petition claimed physical distancing at its facilities is “nearly impossible” and said some warehouse workers are now putting in 50 hours a week or more, which the petition called “unsustainable” and said needs to stop.

Amazon has spent more than $800 million on employee safety since the start of the year, Dougherty said.

The company has unveiled temperature checks, physical distancing measures and offered personal protective wear as part of that investment.

“The health of our employees is absolutely critical to us,” Doughtery said. “It is our top priority, so we are always paying attention to how those systems are working and ensuring they are the best they can be.”

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