At the end of the last quarter of 2018, more than 117,000 jobs were available in Quebec. This vacancy rate is the highest in Canada and is slowing the growth of the province’s companies, as Claude Gagnon, President of Operations at BMO Financial Group, Quebec, highlighted during his visit to the Chamber on January 22.
Gagnon came to share his thoughts on Quebec’s economy and the leadership of the province’s economic stakeholders in a period that he characterizes as “very particular.” He also unveiled a project involving a new instrument for measuring the quality of jobs in the province.
The labour shortage is the most important and brutal change in our economy in the last few years, according to Gagnon. He also points out that the issue is often more pronounced in the regions than in Greater Montréal.
Having worked a number of years in the human resources department during his long career at BMO, the issues of talent and labour are at the heart of Claude Gagnon’s concerns.
According to him, we are entering a new phase where net job creation will be determined by the number of available workers, a context where recruiting employees will often mean moving jobs.
With robotization added to job displacement, how do we determine which jobs are the most relevant and important to keep and which jobs we accept to have done by robots? The goal of BMO, in partnership with the Institut du Québec (IDQ), is to identify the jobs that generate the greatest economic and social benefits in order to protect them as much as possible.
As Mr. Gagnon explained during his appearance at the Chamber, the BMO-IDQ employment quality index will seek to “quantify the subjective and the qualitative” and get economists out of their comfort zone. In other words, to look forward rather than backward.
Claude Gagnon is convinced that new analytical tools are needed in order to get a better view of the new job market reality. Such instruments would make it possible to discover whether Quebec can increase the proportion of jobs that contribute to economic and social progress, while at the same time providing high levels of satisfaction to employees.
What is a quality job? For an individual, it is a rewarding job as an employee or self-employed worker in a private company or public institution that pays more than average, with good conditions and opportunities for advancement.
For society, a quality job could also meet the following criteria:
- Contributes to a green economy or has a low carbon footprint
- Improves services for citizens
- Advocates for inclusion and the recognition of the value of all individuals
- Promotes local expertise and resources
- Calls upon human qualities
BMO and IDQ are aiming for a first publication in the spring of 2019, and then every year at the end of the first quarter. 2018 will be “year zero.” Stay tuned!
In parallel to his speech at the Chamber, Claude Gagnon made two other important points.
The importance of the partnership between Montréal and the regions
In recent months, Claude Gagnon has been touring the regions of Quebec, visiting Sherbrooke, Trois-Rivières, Québec City, Saint-Georges in Beauce, Saguenay, and Drummondville. He took advantage of his stops to visit all kinds of companies: SMEs and multinationals, some new and some well-established, led by men and women. He also met with local elected representatives and representatives of Indigenous peoples.
The intuition that began his tour was confirmed: all of Quebec is changing, not just Montréal. Calling the metropolis “one of the most promising rising stars in North America,” he also pointed out that this same confidence, daring, and taste for challenge are fortunately found everywhere in Quebec.
He also took the opportunity to highlight the importance of the partnership between Montréal and the regions. He asked business people in Montréal to value their relations with businesses in the regions and encouraged them to look for regional suppliers and investments. In short, they should assume a “leadership role in the metropolitan business community.”
Promote the social engagement of businesses
Claude Gagnon also pointed out some of Quebec’s main strengths, such as clean, affordable energy, natural resources, cutting-edge industries, and one of the best public education systems in the world. According to him, these features come with responsibilities. He hopes that Quebec business people will stand up and exercise leadership that goes beyond their businesses and become aware of their influence in the community.
The goal is not to make this a distraction, but rather to integrate this dimension into business growth strategies. Being a good corporate citizen means playing a responsible role, he told his audience, pointing out that good business is done in vibrant and healthy communities.
At a time of changing economies and societies, we have important decisions to make for the years to come, according to Gagnon. Technology, data and data processing, climate change, and immigrant integration are all challenges that companies should invest in for the good of businesses and society.