Quebec forum discussing the work shortage and unemployment rise paradox during the COVID-19 pandemic

A lone customer orders food at a food court in a downtown office building in Montreal, on Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020. Quebec has given offices the greenlight to allow up to 25 per cent of workers to return to the job but the response has been lukewarm. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

Quebec is experiencing an unprecedented situation, as there are around 190,000 additional unemployed people linked to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as a shortage of workers in certain sectors.

On Friday, 200 participants at a forum on requalifying the workforce (Forum virtuel sur la requalification de la main-d’œuvre et sur l’emploi) including employers, unions, community organizers and education professionals, reflected on employment questions, along with six ministers from the Legault CAQ government.

From the outset, Minister of Labor Jean Boulet stressed that despite the recovery in parts of the economy, three sectors of activity still posted unemployment increases of more than 10 per cent in August compared to February 2020. The sectors hardest hit are accommodation and food services, culture and recreation, as well as transport and storage.

Two demographics of workers have been hit hardest by the pandemic: 15 to 24-year-olds and women 25 and over.

In contrast, some sectors lack workers, such as education and health-care and social assistance (nurses and early childhood educators, for example).

The agri-food sector, too, has 6,000 to 7,000 vacancies.


-- this report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 16, 2020. 


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