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The Canadian Economy ... A Slow Recovery (McGuinty Didn't Help)

I have been very involved with Canada’s Staffing Industry for the last twelve years or so, I was a member of the National Board for 9 years, Past President of the association (ACSESS) and am currently Chair of the PR Committee.

The American Staffing Association have done a lot of work in tying the performance of our industry to the performance of the economy. Here in Canada we felt that same correlation would apply and so I set out to develop a Canadian Staffing Index on behalf of ACSESS.

We enlisted a representative number of staffing firms in Canada to provide us with performance data starting in July 2008 (pre-recession). Having just received the January 2010 numbers it tells us a story about the recession here in Canada, how it has affected the staffing industry and consequently how it has affected our clients … the companies and governments that make up Canada’s economy!

Setting the benchmark month at July 2008, and assigning it an index of 100 we saw that the economy was still growing and October 2008 was the peak with an index reading of 107 (7% higher than the benchmark). Starting in November 2008 the numbers fell of precipitously and by May 2009 Canada’s staffing industry had shrunk by 35% from the benchmark and almost 40% from the high mark!

The road to recovery has been long and slow … with a steady increase through 2009 starting in June, however when we hit November there was an anomaly! A one percent dip at the national level, which did not seem to make sense. The only thing different was that Bill 139 in Ontario came into affect … a draconian bill implemented by Minister Fonseca and which has clearly cost Ontario a lot of jobs!

December and January and typically down in performance in the staffing industry due to a lot of factors … increased days off, a natural end to a lot of contracts, the end of seasonal work and a slow start to new work in January.

Having said that the index for January was 68 … still 32% off the benchmark and 37% off the high mark … this IS a long slow road to recovery. Our member companies are experiencing a big increase in activity, there are lots of orders and many new jobs being created … but the numbers tell the story and as of January 2010 we are still hurting!

I expect the February numbers to be a big improvement and am looking forward to a continued improvement in our economy … but don’t be fooled into thinking all is well, there is still a mountain to climb!

It would be nice if governments could hold off on new legislation that hurts industry but I guess votes are more important than economic considerations … hopefully the end of the McGuinty era is in sight! It has been and continues to be painful!