Ontario and Saskatchewan add 400,000 new jobs, as vacancies remain high

Asheesh Moosapeta
Published: November 25, 2022

Across all sectors, job vacancies were up by 3.8% in September, to 994,800 vacant positions within Canada. The majority of these new job additions were in Ontario and Saskatchewan.

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The job vacancy rate (total number of vacant positions as a proportion of labour demand) increased to 5.7%., indicating a continued need to fill positions amid employee shortages.

Seasonal factors tend to make September a month for large vacancies, however, even when accounting for this job vacancies remain high in Canada.

Which sectors had the highest job vacancies?

A job is counted as vacant by Statistics Canada, if:

  • A specific position currently exists; and
  • Work for this position could start within 30 days; and
  • The employer is actively seeking workers from outside the organization to fill the position.

In this context, certain sectors of the economy continued to have high job vacancies.

Health care and Social Assistance

Health care and social assistance saw 159,500 vacant positions in September, up from a record-high number of vacancies in August.

Year-over-year the sector saw an increase of 25% in job vacancies, likely tied to the continued high demand for professionals in this sector, (including doctors, nurses, physicians, surgeons, etc.) in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Canada has taken steps to entice more professionals in this sector to immigrate to the country, even removing barriers to permanent residence (PR) for professionals in this sector, in a bid to address labour shortages.

Accommodation and Food Services

A sector continually searching for labour, accommodation, and food services saw 152,400 vacant positions in September, an increase of 12% from August.

While much of this huge increase can be attributed to seasonal effects, a continued return to pre-pandemic business and social protocols has helped this industry see growth in hiring, and employment; with encouraging signs for the future as vacancies and employment in the sector has remained high all year.

Retail Trade

Retail trade saw a slight increase in job vacancies, with 117,300 vacant positions in September. The job vacancy rate was 5.5%, on par with the national average across all sectors, and a good indicator that this sector has a continued need for workers.

Professional Scientific and Technical Services

An expansive sector that encompasses legal services, accounting, architectural and engineering, computer systems design, management consulting, advertising, public relations, and more; Professional scientific and technical services is another sector that has seen a consistent need for labour.

At 61,900 job vacancies, September’s report was reflective of this, with the industry having a job vacancy rate of 5% that again mirrors the national average, and is a good indication of ongoing demand and hiring efforts here, in months to come.


The only industry to see a consistent decline in job vacancies was manufacturing, which was down to 76,000 job vacancies in September; from a peak of 92,100 just one month prior.

While this could be taken as a sign of increased hiring in the space, this drop in job vacancies comes off the back of the fourth decline in Real Gross Domestic Product (RGDP) in the past five months. RGDP is an inflation-adjusted measure that reflects the value of all goods and services within an industry.

In light of this, the decrease in job vacancies in this sector is likely strongly tied to a contraction in the industry as a whole.

A note on payroll increases

Payroll employment is the number of employees receiving pay or benefits from their employer.

While increases in these figures can be due to a number of factors (for example, hiring for old vacant positions), payroll employment can generally be seen as a singular marker of good health of a business, industry, or even economy.

Payroll employment increased nationally by 0.5% in September, with the largest gains in Quebec, British Columbia, and Alberta.

  • The sectors that saw the biggest uptick in employment were:
  • Healthcare and social assistance (+ 20,700 employees);
  • Accommodation and food services (+ 8,400 employees);
  • Retail Trade (+ 8,200 employees);

Taken with the context that all of these industries saw increases in job vacancies, these are very encouraging signs for professionals in these three spaces. Correlating this further with the RGDP of each industry in August; we can see that all three of the above sectors have experienced:

  • Increases in job vacancies (hiring activities);
  • Increases in payroll employees (people hired); and
  • Increases in the overall value of goods and services produced.

These continue to be promising signs as Canada moves out of pandemic protocols, and towards pre-pandemic levels of economic output.

As Canada faces a record number of job vacancies

Immigration continues to be at the forefront of grappling with labour shortages in the country.

The Canadian government and Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) continue to take measures to solve a looming labour shortage, as more and more members of an aging Canadian population go into retirement.

Canada will look to confront labour shortages with the immigration of skilled foreign workers, as evidenced by an expansion of economic immigration pathways like Express Entry and the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP); as well as an aggressive immigration plan to welcome close to 500,000 newcomers to Canada every year.

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