← Back to Blog

September 17, 2015

Help Wanted: An example of how non-urban Canada is stuck in a labour gap

Today one of our clients launched an important study that we developed on local labour markets in a non-urban core. The report, “Opportunity Lives Here: Transforming the Labour Market in Perth County, Stratford and St. Marys,” was put together for the Perth Community Futures Development Corporation.

While the work is focused on a particular region of South West Ontario, the insights and experiences reported are far from unique. Rather, the more work we do on non-core economic regions, the more we see the development of very complex labour market issues that span much of non-urban Canada and that are posing significant challenges to the sustained success of Canada’s manufacturing and agricultural / food processing sectors amongst others.

At the heart of this market dynamic is a low-wage equilibrium that throws aside usual supply-demand factors, and instead marries low unemployment with low wages. A properly functioning market should see wages rise as labour becomes scarce. That’s not happening for a variety of reasons, notably low margins and low productivity amongst employers. Warren is in the process of putting together an in-depth report on this topic and its presence across North America.

In the interim, you can download the full Perth County, Stratford and St. Marys report here: http://opportunityliveshere.ca/wp-content/uploads/LM_2020Report_Final.pdf

Now – be forewarned – the report itself gets into some pretty heady detail about the region and specific sectors therein. That said, the following highlights the key messages we heard from employers:

The report presents a series of initiatives aimed at addressing these points and, as of page 45, highlights a series of case studies that show examples from other jurisdictions of how these might be addressed.


Check back in a couple of months for a follow on piece that Warren is leading.


Interested in becoming a DEEP Centre member?

The Centre for Digital Entrepreneurship and Economic Performance turns research findings into practical insights and tools for stimulating innovation, entrepreneurship and job creation.