The Fraser Institute

The Fraser Institute

September 01, 2011 06:32 ET

The Fraser Institute: Quebec's Labour Market Shows Minor Improvement but Province Needs to Boost Productivity and Reform Labour Laws to Ensure It Doesn't Regress

MONTRÉAL, QUÉBEC--(Marketwire - Sept. 1, 2011) - Some minor improvements in Quebec's labour market performance were enough to move the province from near the bottom to the middle of the pack this year in the Fraser Institute's annual ranking of provincial labour market performance.

The annual report, Measuring Labour Markets in Canada and the United States 2011, ranks Quebec in fifth spot among Canadian provinces, just ahead of Ontario and New Brunswick (which tied for sixth) and Nova Scotia (eighth), Newfoundland and Labrador (ninth), and PEI (10th). Last year, Quebec ranked ninth in Canada, ahead of only Newfoundland and Labrador.

Western Canada continues to offer the best-performing labour markets among all provinces, with Alberta ranked first overall and Saskatchewan second. Manitoba and British Columbia ranked third and fourth in Canada. The complete report is available at

Despite some small improvements in the performance of Quebec's labour market, the province's higher ranking is mainly the result of how the recession has hurt the labour market performance of other provinces.

"The underlying fundamentals of Quebec's labour market remain quite poor," said Filip Palda, Fraser Institute senior fellow and professor at the École nationale d'administration publique.

"Quebec's government needs to initiate policies that encourage improvements in productivity, ease rigid labour regulations, and attract private sector enterprises that create jobs."

Measuring Labour Markets in Canada and the United States 2011 measures the performance of North American labour markets in 10 Canadian provinces and 50 U.S. states, and examines characteristics that affect their performance. The report includes an overall measure of labour market performance based on five indicators: total employment growth, private-sector employment growth, unemployment rates, duration of unemployment, and labour productivity over the years 2006-2010.

The report found that Quebec ranked 57th out of 60 for average productivity of labour and 36th out of 60 for its unemployment rate. Quebec's labour market is also characterized by the highest unionization rate in North America (39.7 per cent) and one of the highest public-sector employment rates (19.6 per cent), ranking 55th out of 60. The province also ranked 56th for its high minimum wage, which totals 41.3 per cent of average per-worker salaries and wages.

Quebec's improvement in the rankings was driven in part by its private-sector job growth of 0.9 per cent, which ranked it ninth out of 60 and surpassed Ontario's 0.1 per cent decrease in private sector jobs (ranking it 24th out of 60). While both provinces had an average unemployment rate of 6.7 per cent over 2006-2010, Quebec's unemployment rate fell in 2010 to 6.7 per cent from 7.2 per cent in 2009, while Ontario's fell only to 7.9 per cent from 8.2 per cent.

"While Quebec's labour market has shown improvement, its higher ranking compared to Ontario and other American states this year is mainly the result of the recent recession and the effect it has had on the U.S. and Ontario labour markets," Palda said.

The Fraser Institute is an independent Canadian public policy research and educational organization with offices in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, and Montreal and ties to a global network of 85 think-tanks. Its mission is to measure, study, and communicate the impact of competitive markets and government intervention on the welfare of individuals. To protect the Institute's independence, it does not accept grants from governments or contracts for research. Visit

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