New Brunswick Tribune

Employers in Canada, faced with a labour shortage, accommodate the unvaccinated

Canadian firms accommodate the unvaccinated

Key takeaways:

  • Because of Canada’s limited labor market, many businesses choose periodic Covid-19 testing to vaccination requirements.
  • Airlines, police departments, school boards, and even Canada’s Big Five banks promised to enforce rigorous immunization policy.
  • The tight labor market in Canada was bolstered by data released on Friday, which showed that 153,700 jobs were gained in November.

Many firms opt for frequent Covid-19 testing over vaccine obligations because of Canada’s limited labor market, while others reverse previously declared inoculation requirements as Omicron variant cases mount.

The govt of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau implemented one of the harshest immunization policies in the world for state personnel, putting over 1,000 people on unpaid leave and putting thousands more in danger.

Airlines, police departments, school boards, and even Canada’s Big Five banks promised to enforce rigorous immunization policy. However, carrying out the plan has been difficult, especially as firms struggle with staffing shortages and workers’ demand exemptions.

Also read: 11 new members have been added to the New Brunswick Fire Department

Official data reveals that employment openings in Canada have increased so far this year, and vaccine mandates may make it more difficult to fill those positions, putting upward pay pressure on workers. This might exacerbate inflation, which is already approaching two-decade highs.

“It’s challenging enough to attract employees without adding a vaccine requirement. You’d be able to shave off another 20 minutes. “According to Dan Kelly, CEO of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, “a quarter” of potential workers are unemployed.

Employing the unvaccinated has its drawbacks. COVID-19 outbreaks are more likely in businesses, and many vaccinated personnel is wary of working with people who have not had the vaccine, according to industry associations and marketing experts.

President Robert Eiser of Luda Foods, a Montreal-based soup and sauce manufacturer, said he has 14 unfilled positions, no vaccination mandate, and no intentions to limit recruits to those who have been vaccinated.

“I’m not sure I want to shrink the (labor) pool, which is already fairly small,” Eiser added. “To match the demand, we need to attract people. Our competitors will if we don’t.”

The tight labor market in Canada was bolstered by data released on Friday, which showed that 153,700 jobs were gained in November. It also revealed a widening gap between available workers and vacant positions. And employment openings are significantly higher than they were before the outbreak.

Struggling with a labour shortage, Canadian firms accommodate the unvaccinated
Struggling with a labour shortage, Canadian firms accommodate the unvaccinated. Image from Reuters

Returning on foot

Last month, the province of Quebec reversed a vaccine mandate for healthcare workers, claiming that it could not manage to lose thousands of unvaccinated employees. Ontario, also considering a mandate, announced that it would not proceed.

The Toronto-Dominion Bank and the Bank of Montreal have relaxed their immunization policies to allow for frequent testing for employees who missed the October 31 deadline for vaccinations.

In Canada, 86% of adults are fully immunized, while this number lowers to under 80% among those aged 18 to 40. In the last week, at least 15 cases of the novel Omicron strain have been documented in Canada.

Half of his clients are mandating immunizations, while the other half allows periodical testing for the unvaccinated, according to John Cappelli, vice president of onsite managed services for global recruitment business Adecco in Canada.

But, despite the toughest job market he’s experienced in his 25-year career, he expects the Omicron variant to force more employers to become more rigorous on immunization.

“In five months, we’re starting to see our first workplace (Covid-19) cases,” he said.

Since August, the number of Canadian job advertisements on the job-search website Indeed specifies vaccine requirements has doubled.

Vaccine mandates are less common in the hard-hit manufacturing sector, where 77 percent of companies say their top issue is attracting and retaining workers.

According to Dennis Darby, CEO of Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters, most of Canada’s manufacturers have operated securely during the pandemic. 

“Some companies are still employing fast testing if someone doesn’t want to get vaccinated,” he noted, while CME supports immunization.

However, if firms are overt in their efforts to tap into the unvaccinated labor pool, they risk damaging their brand, according to Wojtek Dabrowski, the managing partner at Provident Communications.

“Many customers will equate you being anti-science and anti-safety if you go out and say, ‘We are purposefully wanting to hire unvaccinated people,'” Dabrowski said.

Source: CNN Business

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