How is Omicron Affecting Canadian Labour Markets?

By Remitbee - Jan 12, 2022


Last month, just before Omicron struck, Canada added 55,000 jobs. Statistics Canada reported that it surpassed what experts expected. However, everyone should take this with a pinch of salt.

With the new Omicron variant, many areas have tightened back, predicted to strain Canada's labour markets. We've listed some of the occurrences in the last several days to show how this Omicron affects Canadian labour markets.

Workplace Restrictions

Canada's two most populated provinces, Ontario and Quebec, have emphasized restrictions. It's no surprise that other cities and towns will follow likewise in the coming days to ensure everyone's safety. These additional security measures and rules directly affect businesses and their workers.

Going Back to Remote Work Set-ups

With regulations in place, including Ontario and Quebec, the government urges businesses to allow their employees to work from home. For instance, the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce and National Bank of Canada have encouraged employees in Canada to work remotely, following the Bank of Nova Scotia.

Vaccination Policies

Vaccine prerequisites were causing some unvaccinated employees to be dismissed. Toronto, for example, had fired more or less 461 workers because of failing to follow a mandated vaccination policy.

This policy protects businesses or workplaces from those employees who might have been exposed and put others at risk. According to the recent data from Canada's federal civil service, 775 people are unvaccinated, with over 3,000 requesting to be exempted.

Heightened Absenteeism of Workers

Compared to previous waves or variants of CoVid 19, the Omicron wave has said to be marked by increased absence from work. Because of this, there's a chance that the impact on productivity will be more significant than the existing restrictions suggest.

Staff Shortages

Even though many Canadians are still unemployed, businesses have reported employee shortages when Omicron cases in Canada rise. For example, due to Omicron and crew shortages, WestJet cancels 15% of flights.

Various provincial isolation restrictions may be limiting personnel capabilities as well. Many business owners choose to close temporarily rather than run the ship with a small crew. However, those that previous lockdowns have already weakened are highly likely to not reopen, even at the end of this current wave.

Deterioration of Worker's Mental Health

We are all aware of the pandemic's harmful effects on employee mental health at this point.

With the new Omicron variant and its increasing cases in Canada, mental health issues will likely worsen as we end 2021 and prepare for 2022. Workers develop the feeling of being unsure when all of this will end.

On the other hand, vaccines' introduction and mandatory use have increased optimism. It somehow gave people a sense of control.

Optimism Amid Threats

This isn't the very first time the government has had to deal with a new type of Covid. Nonetheless, analysts believe that the overall labour trend is still positive.

According to Jimmy Jean, the chief economist of Desjardins Group, the development of Omicron does not affect the overall picture, which has been a very solid labour market and an excellent recovery. He added that full-time jobs grew by 122,500, contributing to net growth.

The loss of 67,700 part-time employment somewhat compensated for this. The service sector created 10,600 jobs, while the goods-producing sector added 44,200 for Canadians. Overall, Canadian employment has increased by 240,500 jobs since the outbreak.

Aid for Omicron-Affected Workers and Businesses

To help individuals affected by resource constraints implemented because of the emergence of the Omicron variant, the federal government is momentarily increasing qualifications for the Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit and the Local Lockdown Program grants.

The declaration was made by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on January 5, as provinces tightened business regulations in response to a nationwide spike of Omicron cases in Canada. Those who have lost more than 50% of their revenue related to capacity constraints "may apply for the Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit," according to Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland.

Thru the local lockdown program, businesses that have had to restrict the capacity of their primary business by 50% or more are candidates for salary and rent subsidy assistance.


After two years of fighting an epidemic, health professionals throughout Canada are exhausted. Cases are increasing throughout the country, with Omicron cases accounting for a big share of the surge. We can understand why so many people are so hesitant about going to work or going out at all.

Everyone has demonstrated how resilient we are in the face of this pandemic. The labour market in Canada is strengthening. Following government regulations is the best thing we can do for the time being. Sure, it's important to earn a living, but we can't do it with poor health. We are not just risking ourselves but our families as well. So, stay safe!

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