If you were to ask me to give you a reason to be a Toronto Star subscriber I'd give you the name Carol Goar (or Thomas Walkom or David Olive for that matter). Not only do I find her sensible and being in agreement with her much of the time, I have also found that much of her writing on social issues affecting Canadians has an immigration reform angle - not of the kind she'd welcome I imagine since she does write from the left of the political spectrum - that brings into doubt the necessity of maintaining the highest immigrant intake levels on a per-capita basis in the world year after year.
Her latest commentary does that again. In it she reports on the findings of economist Don Drummond who has been a "skill shortage" skeptic for some time.
In her commentary she notes that "there were 6.3 unemployed people for every job vacancy"; that "there are no wage spikes in the skilled trades, information technology or scientific, professional and technical services" and "if Canada had skill shortages, employers would be paying a premium for workers in those fields"; and that "Ottawa does not have the ability to forecast labour needs accurately" because "its methods are flawed, its projections unreliable," according to Don Drummond.
Furthermore she notes that according to information provided in the 2013 federal budget approximately 4% of available jobs went unfilled leading to a discrepancy with StatsCan findings. Curious about the discrepancy Don Drummond inquired about the methodology of the finance department that led to that figure. He was stonewalled by the finance department on the grounds of confidentiality disallowing him from verifying Ottawa's claims. So he discounted them as unreliable since they can't be verified.
Another fact to ponder not mentioned in the article is that the Canadian labour force is the best educated workforce in the whole of the industrialized world. Per-capita Canadian workers are in possession of more post-secondary education and training than any where else and ever before. One can say Canada is producing more skilled workers than it's economy can handle. Put another way one can say the private sector is unable to accommodate a growing skilled labour force and so shifts blame elsewhere for fear of highlighting a failure of the system. Or, they simply lie because it's in their interest to do so because they want skilled workers at fire-sale prices. When you get the same spiel coming out of the United States - the country with arguably the best education system in the world - you start to tempt incredulity.
So the "skills shortage" myth isn't so much a myth but an outright lie.
The arguments favouring the perpetuation of the lie are familiar. The most common one is a disconnect between what the labour market needs and what Canadians are in training for much in the pursuit of the so-called "useless degree." I call bullsh*t on this. Anyone who has demonstrated some form of intellectual proficiency is employable. So why aren't they being employed? The answer is most likely the simplest one: Canadian businesses have excused themselves from training and retaining a workforce. They prefer a workforce where the individual bears all the risks and costs of training - with government subsidy - to be exploited for profit with little investment coming from the employer. In essence when it comes to investing in a workforce the private sector wants a free lunch. That being the case the business community only has itself to blame.
Another favourite is that there is a skills shortage in the trades (as if this excuse is enough to justify the steady importation of more than a quarter of a million foreigners onto Canadian soil permanently). However, if it weren't for the cond0 and housing building booms - projects of short-term employment engaged in the construction of buildings of no long-term production value and economic use aside from residential purposes - I doubt there'd be much of a skills trade shortage to cry about (but I'm sure they'd make it up anyway). Besides, if they were serious about addressing the skilled trades shortage then why do the Philippines, India, and China continue to occupy top spots as source countries for immigrants. You'd imagine that countries with building codes on par with Canada's would figure somewhere at the top but nope!
So why is the lie allowed to continue to influence government immigration policy when clearly it is a lie? The answer is powerful interests need it. Politicians need votes and to pander to immigrant/ethnic vote banks, the banks need more people to take out mortgages (and create bank accounts they can steal money from under the guise of "service fees") to pad bank profits and executive performance pay while fueling a housing boom they expect will continue 'til the second coming of Jesus. (Indeed, the housing market and the financial sector significantly influence GDP measurements to such an extent that to let either falter wouldn't look good to a government wishing to stay in power.) And most importantly the business community needs cheap skilled labour which is what they really mean when they say there is a skills shortage. When confronting an electorate that is growing increasingly weary of an immigration policy and it's long-term effects on the country you gotta tell 'em something so they will support a system that is more harmful to them than beneficial. And what are you going to tell someone to accept something that hurts them more than helps?