Pandemic drove hiring trends in Q4: StatsCan

By James Langton | March 23, 2021 | Last updated on March 23, 2021
2 min read
A doctor and an elderly patient are indoors at the woman's home. The doctor is talking to the woman while holding a tablet computer.

New data on the Canadian job market shows that demand for workers in the healthcare and social assistance sectors rose in late 2020, while demand plunged in industries affected by public health restrictions.

Statistics Canada reported that there were 560,200 employment openings in the fourth quarter of 2020, up 10.2% from the fourth quarter of 2019. More than two-thirds of the increase came from the healthcare and social assistance sectors, including hospitals, nursing and residential care facilities.

Even before the pandemic, employment in the healthcare sector was rising alongside an aging population, but total vacancies in sector reached a record high in Q4, the report noted.

The retail sector saw the second-largest increase in job vacancies, driven by general merchandise and food and beverage stores, StatsCan said.

“While some retail stores have faced closures as a result of public health measures, others, notably those deemed essential, have seen an increase in consumer demand. For example, sales at supermarkets and other grocery stores — deemed essential at the start of the pandemic—rose 11.5% in 2020,” StatsCan reported.

Alongside the rise in job opening, the average hourly wage offered was up by 75¢ to $22.50 per hour.

The industries hardest hit by the pandemic, such as the accommodation and food services sector, saw the largest decline in job vacancies in Q4, dropping by 15,000 year over year. Openings fell 24.3% as employment in the sector was down 25.7%, StatsCan said.

Available jobs in the arts, entertainment and recreation sector also plunged. Vacancies in the sector dropped by 42.6%, “led by decreases in amusement, gambling and recreation industries, which includes recreational, sports and fitness centres,” the report noted.

The latest quarterly data on job openings in Canada was the first provided by StatsCan since December 2019. The agency suspended data collection last year due to the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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James Langton

James is a senior reporter for and its sister publication, Investment Executive. He has been reporting on regulation, securities law, industry news and more since 1994.