Following the 2018 EDAC Conference in Fredericton, the Town of Saugeen Shores’ Mayor and staff recognized an opportunity to educate and inform the community of what we had learned.
Labour Shortage is a hot topic in Saugeen Shores, and the public was continuing to position the shortage as a Saugeen Shores isolated issue. The EDAC Conference taught us otherwise – labour shortage is a national issue, and this is a message we knew we had to bring home to Saugeen Shores. In addition to this learning, Saugeen Shores representatives at the EDAC conference learned of communities who are leveraging immigration and foreign worker programs, and of businesses who have shifted traditional labour tasks to automation. In today’s economy, the shortage of workforce means doing some things differently.
After careful and considerate planning, a Labour Shortage forum took place in Saugeen Shores. The local business community, business associations, economic development stakeholders and elected officials were invited to attend. An unexpected consequence was registrations from other municipalities, including their staff, elected officials and business community members. A thoughtful panel of experts were invited to the table to discuss automation and immigration as concepts to support the national issue. The free event filled capacity of the venue, and the conversation was picked up by a number of local and provincial media outlets. Saugeen Shores demonstrated a leadership role by addressing the shortage, educating the community on this national issue, and began to discuss concepts and strategies to support our local business community during this shortage.
A report to Council prior to the event stated: On March 20, 2019 elected officials, business owners and other economic development stakeholders will be invited to discuss this national issue and to review our experience at our local level. The Town of Saugeen Shores is pleased to host a conversation to identify the issue of labour shortage in our community, and discuss concepts and strategies to support solutions.
A report to Council following the event stated: 70 participants joined the panel of experts at the Bruce County Museum and Cultural Centre for the event. The audience was offered a feedback survey following the event. The survey resulted in a 24% response rate, with 88% of respondents ‘strongly agree’ or ‘agree’ the panel of experts were knowledgeable in their field. 65% of respondents experienced an increase in knowledge of the national issue from the event.
A common theme from the event was newcomer attraction and welcoming tactics. New residents are moving to the area for a variety of reasons, and the community has an opportunity to enhance programs and services to be more inclusive and welcoming. Saugeen Shores is a diverse community, deserving of recognition and celebration. There is an opportunity to become more inclusive to newcomers, including new Canadians, and an opportunity to build a strategy to support and celebrate diversity.
The conversation continued at the Town of Saugeen Shores’ 2nd Annual Economic Development Forum, which took place in June 2019. In addition to both the Economic Development Forum, and the Labour Shortage Forum, Town staff will take a close look at labour shortage in Saugeen Shores through a quantifiable data study. This study is advancing in partnership with researchers from the University of Guelph. By quantifying the shortage, Saugeen Shores will be positioned to leverage provincial and federal programs relating to automation and immigration.
The entire event was filmed and has been referenced numerous times by elected officials and staff. You can view the entire conversation online: