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How to tackle a shortage of employees

Low birth rates and an aging population are creating quite an economic challenge in Quebec. For business owners, that could translate into a shortage of employees. It is more important than ever to know how to attract and retain your workforce. Your company’s survival could be on the line!

Many businesses are already feeling the pinch of a staffing shortage. To know whether you’re one of them, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you have a high turnover rate?
  • Do you regularly adjust your employees’ salaries in response to a request or a complaint (or worse, to counter another employer’s offer)?
  • Do you ever post a job and get no applicants who meet your initial criteria?
  • Do you often have to water down your hiring criteria to fill your positions?
  • Do you hire new employees at a higher rate and then have to adjust the salaries of your current employees?

If you answered yes to a few of these questions, your business could be facing a shortage of employees. Here are some quick and easy solutions to attract, hire and keep the very best employees!

Attract the right candidates: review your job postings

Do you always attract the same type of applicant? It might be time to re-evaluate how you do things to draw the broadest possible range of workers.

  • Review your job postings! Call your CFIB Counsellor for help going over your postings to make sure that the improvements you have in mind have the potential to attract the candidates you need. We can even provide you with a template.
  • Clearly indicate in your job postings that people with immigrant backgrounds and people aged 55 and older are welcome to apply.
  • Specify how you stand out from the competition. Do you have great insurance coverage, flexible working hours or a social club at your company? 
  • Advertise your job postings in organizations in your area that welcome immigrants. ALPA, established by the Quebec government, is one example.
  • Stay in touch with the educational institutions in your area (e.g., secondary schools, CEGEPs, universities, private training institutions) and make a name for yourself by offering internships, company tours or even mentoring.
  • Use social media to promote your job offers and your business.
  • Consider offering a referral bonus to employees that recommend candidates who then get hired and successfully complete their probationary period.

Tax credits for experienced employees

With an aging population, SMEs should consider retaining experienced employees and even bringing retirees back to work.

To encourage older employees to stay, you can:

  • Offer them more flexible schedules
  • Offer them part-time or seasonal positions
  • Give them summers off and hire students to temporarily replace them

Relief from the government!

In   2019, the Ministère de l’Immigration, de la Francisation et de l’Intégration (MIFI) announced two tax measures to help experienced workers aged 60 and above stay in the workforce.

Reduced payroll taxes for employers

If there are experienced workers at your company, you could be eligible for an income tax credit on the main payroll taxes. This reduction can be up to:

  • 50% for workers between the ages of 60 and 64, to a maximum of $1,250 per worker; 
  • 75% for workers aged 65 and above, to a maximum of $1,875 per worker.

To be eligible, you must:

  • have a place of business in Québec; 
  • have a paid-up capital  of less than $15 million for the previous year ; 
  • have more than 5,000 payroll hours per year   (except for the primary and manufacturing sectors).

An income tax credit for employees

This second measure is intended for workers. The government is enhancing the existing income tax credit and lowering the age of eligibility from 61 to 60.

For more information, read our article on the budget highlights or contact your CFIB counsellor. 

Onboarding: an essential step

Welcoming and onboarding new hires is key to ensuring that your employees develop a sense of belonging early on. Plan ahead. Pairing new hires with seasoned employees can be an excellent strategy and also a great way to transfer knowledge to new employees.

Implementing an employee handbook shows your interest in your employees. We have prepared a template and a webinar to help you build the best handbook possible. When in doubt, call your CFIB Counsellor!

Plus, did you know that Emploi-Québec offers subsidies to improve your human resources management tools? Contact your local employment centre for more information (select Services for businesses).

Have you thought about automation and training?

Some SMEs facing a significant labour shortage have turned to technology and innovation to increase productivity. However, this kind of shift requires a transition plan for non-specialized employees. In a business that decides to fully automate its production going forward, for instance, machine operators could undergo training to become programmers.

Emploi-Québec offers support (in French only) to train your employees so that they can keep their job.

Thinking about hiring from abroad?

International hires could be an attractive option, especially for higher-skilled positions, such as IT workers. They can be pricey, though: it takes time and planning to integrate the immigrants that you will be hiring (housing, transportation, etc.).

Renewing work permits is easier for employees and workers who are already in Canada and who wish to extend their stay working for the same employer or for another employer. They can apply for a work permit online (reply within about 20 days) or directly at the border post or customs (same-day reply). You can find information on the Government of Canada’s website, or call your CFIB Counsellor to find out more.

Support for businesses wishing to hire foreign workers

The government has developed resources and programs to help you hire immigrant workers. The Ministère de l’Immigration, de la Francisation et de l’Intégration (MIFI) funds approximately a hundred community agencies to help newcomers integrate into Quebec society, including job search assistance. To meet the needs of as many businesses as possible, the MIFI will have a presence in more than 50 cities, with 61 service points throughout Quebec. The MIFI also offers a business support system. 

If interested, this service can help you to:

  • obtain information about the various immigration programs and financial assistance programs available;
  • obtain assistance on how to use the “Employers Portal” on the Arrima platform;
  • hire immigrants or people from ethnocultural minorities that are already established in Quebec;
  • hire international students who have a Quebec degree;
  • recruit temporary and permanent workers abroadfrancize immigrants;
  • facilitate the integration of immigrants through settlement and socio-professional integration programs;
  • learn about recognition of competencies and access to professional corporations; 
  • request an information session on an immigration-related topic.

You can access this support by filling in the online request form (French only). A Counsellor will then contact you. 

Financial assistance programs for hiring 

To facilitate hiring abroad and employment integration for immigrants, the MIFI will invest $54.8 million until 2021. A portion of this investment will be used to fund four new measures for businesses wishing to recruit temporary foreign workers:

  • financial assistance for participation in a recruitment mission: the costs incurred will be reimbursed at approximately 50%, up to a maximum of $5,000 per company per mission;
  • financial assistance for international recruitment (excluding recruitment missions): reimbursement of approximately 50% of transportation, meal and accommodation costs incurred abroad, up to a maximum of $5,000;
  • financial assistance for the relocation of recruited workers: up to a maximum of $1,000 per immigrant worker;  
  • temporary foreign workers and their spouses will now be eligible for the full range of public employment services;

The ministère du Travail, de l’Emploi et de la Solidarité sociale also announced the addition of a funding measure to help business that use recruitment experts, such as lawyers or immigration consultants. These businesses will be eligible for a reimbursement of up to 50% of eligible expenses, without exceeding $1,200.

Emploi-Québec offers some workers a wage subsidy to facilitate their integration into the labour market. Why not bring these workers into your company? 

Employment Integration Program for Immigrants and Visible Minorities (PRIIME)

This program offers:

  • financial assistance up to 70% of the participant’s gross earnings;
  • the possibility of spreading the assistance over a 52-week period.

In addition, the subsidy has the following four components:

  1. a wage subsidy to help workers integrate into the labour market;
  2. a wage subsidy to provide participants with coaching and assistance;
  3. financial support to compensate for additional expenses directly related to adapting tools and activities as required to take into account the specific cultural characteristics of the workers;
  4. financial support to compensate for the expenses directly incurred by you to provide these new hires with additional training.

There are more solutions still!

Have you thought about hiring First Nations and Inuit workers?
The First Nations and Inuit Employment Integration Program (PAIPNI) is similar to PRIIME but is specific to Indigenous peoples.

This program offers:

  •  financial assistance of up to 80% of the participant’s gross earnings, and  up to 100% of the minimum wage calculated on a 40-hour basis;
  •  this program can be spread over 52 weeks if warranted by the integration difficulties experienced by the worker;

 The subsidy consists of the same four components as the PRIIME program. 

What about people with a disability?

Did you know that there are subsidies to promote the employment integration of individuals with a disability? Emploi-Québec can provide the following financial assistance through the Job integration contract:

  • a wage subsidy if there is a productivity shortfall ;
  • coverage of some of the additional expenses incurred when hiring people with a disability, such as the costs of workplace accommodation.

Emploi-Québec has set up an employer assistance service to support you in hiring people with a disability.

Measures for businesses and seasonal workers

Seasonal businesses: Interested in a longer season?

In April 2019, the Ministère du Travail, de l’Emploi et de la Solidarité sociale decided to renew the seasonal worker pilot project.

Businesses will be able to extend their season by offering in-house employee training programs either at the start of the season or at the end. These programs will be fully reimbursed, and a wage subsidy will be available, up to a maximum hourly rate of $20 per employee.

The training programs may cover the following topics:

  • reading;
  • making use of documents;
  • writing;
  • performing calculations;
  • oral communication;
  • thinking skills;
  • digital skills;
  • teamwork;
  • continuing professional development.

In addition, once their Employment Insurance benefits are exhausted, seasonal workers will be eligible to receive a participation allowance equivalent to the EI benefits they normally received when they were taking a training program.

Finding Tomorrow’s Workers 

Are you worried about a future shortage of workers in your field? Why not do your part to train the next generation? The Découvrir une relève program provides two ways for you to bring interns into your company:

  • through exploration internships, for a maximum of four weeks;
  • through observation internships of varying length.

For more information about all of these programs, please contact your local employment centre or your CFIB Counsellor.

The Quebec government announced it would invest $1.3 billion over 5 years as part of its recently unveiled national workforce strategy. We will let you know when new resources are available to you!