HR Insights Series: Shifting Business and Workforce Priorities Amid a Global Pandemic (Part 2)


The latest HR Insights are in! COVID-19 and other current events continue to impact employment in Canada and the environmental workforce, but to a lesser extent than was seen in April.

An Uneven Job Recovery is Underway―but Uncertainty Remains

About 5.5 million Canadians experienced job loss or underemployment as a result of COVID-19 and other events. In May, business sectors started gradually reopening province-by-province signifying the beginning of economic and job recovery, as well as positive momentum for Canada’s labour market.

The consequences of this global pandemic have and will continue to have an uneven impact on the labour market. Canada recorded nearly 300,000 job gains in May―Quebec reporting the majority. Increased employment opportunities were also observed for the goods-producing sector, lower-wage jobs, men, and the Indigenous population. Despite these positive outcomes, the unemployment rate climbed to 13.7%, as more Canadians entered the labour force to seek employment or re-employment.

Canadians seem to be cautiously optimistic about job security or job prospects, however the economic outlook isn’t very rosy for the remainder of 2020―and potentially beyond. Additional stimulus efforts are being introduced to help industries and businesses stay afloat and combat economic disruption and uncertainty. Governments, businesses and individuals will need to adapt and navigate through this new reality, as novel challenges and opportunities emerge.

Employers Strive to Support the Environmental Workforce

In April, ECO Canada launched an initiative to take the pulse of environmental employers and workers and understand how the Canadian workforce has been affected by current events. Our April survey results revealed that while impacts were felt across companies of all types, sizes and locations, environmental firms fared slightly better.

Our latest results indicate that employers and workers are continuing to experience the consequences of the intentional economic shutdown, but to a lesser extent than was seen in April.

A total of 123 employers from all regions, company sizes and environmental sub-sectors had responded to ECO Canada’s HR Pulse survey by May. The sudden downturn that affected employers as a result of COVID-19 and the oil & gas market eased over the last month. Close to 60% of respondents indicated that their current business was negatively impacted, relative to the 90% reported in April.

Employer HR Pulse―Interactive Report

Click through the interactive report to learn about employer respondents, how they have been impacted, and the solutions they are using to help workforce recovery efforts.

*Data may take a moment to load

Environmental Workforce Maintains Optimism

A total of 82 respondents took part in the survey from across Canada. Workers have experienced impacts to their job status and working locations as a result of COVID-19. Respondents are primarily concerned about limited opportunities to practice their profession and develop their soft skills. However, 90% of respondents expressed their want to continue pursuing their environmental careers, which highlights a positive outlook for the sector overall.

Worker HR Pulse―Interactive Report

Click through the interactive report to learn about worker respondents, how they have been impacted, and the steps employers have taken to support them.

*Data may take a moment to load

Shifts and Setbacks for the Environmental Sector and its Workforce

The pandemic has continued to influence government priorities and programs, including those related to environmental activities. Federal and provincial governments have suspended, delayed or cancelled environmental protection measures, which will cause unintended consequences for a portion of Canada’s environmental workforce. Comparatively, some essential environmental activities are expected to intensify as on-site, field and seasonal work arrangements resume. Additional public sector investments in environmental activities, such as Canada’s $1.7B funding to clean up orphan wells, will spur job creation in the short term.

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Find out about how these developments impact the environmental labour market in our next HR Insights series report! Subscribe to our eNewsletter to stay current on environmental workforce trends.

Funded in part by the Government of Canada’s Sectoral Initiatives Program. The opinions and interpretations in this publication are ECO Canada’s and do not necessarily reflect those held by the Government of Canada.

For more information, please contact research@eco.ca

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