monteralgazette.com | La Presse Canadienne | Lia Lévesque
A survey of Quebec manufacturing companies on labour shortages in the province has found that half the jobs that need to be filled in the sector pay an hourly wage ranging from $20 to $29, far above the province’s minimum wage of $13.50 an hour.
Another 11 per cent pay between $30 and $40 an hour, and six per cent pay more than $40 an hour, leaving only 34 per cent paying under $20 an hour.
The survey of 401 companies was conducted last May and June by the Manufacturiers et exportateurs du Québec (MEQ). The organization also toured and met with representatives of 110 companies.
The jobs most difficult to fill were for day labourers, assemblers, equipment operators, welders, mechanics, machinists, technicians and engineers.
Of the eight solutions proposed by the MEQ to deal with the labour shortage, an increase in immigration levels proved to be the most popular, with 48 per cent of respondents saying it would greatly help and 30 per cent saying it would be of moderate help.
“Immigration is essential if we want to respond to the needs of the manufacturing sector,” said Véronique Proulx, MEQ president. “So we’re asking the government for more hands, more skills.”
Asked whether a pay hike would help fill the jobs, 23 per cent said it would greatly help and 48 per cent felt it would help somewhat.
Proulx said salary pressure is up throughout Quebec. “We have several companies that have increased salaries, but fundamentally, the problem is the pool of workers is not big enough.”
Other solutions proposed by the organization included the use of robots and automation, doing more to recruit young people, a tax credit on salaries and investments in training.
The MEQ estimated the labour shortage has cost the industry $18 billion in lost or delayed contracts. “It’s $18 billion that we’ve left on the table over two years,” Proulx said.