Growing need for health-care workers in coming decades — report

North Bay Nugget

North Bay Regional Health Centre Nugget File Photo jpg, NB

Northeastern Ontario may need as many as 13,000 new health-care providers by 2030 as estimates suggest those 65 years of age and older will make up close to 30 per cent of the population, a new report reveals.

Released last week by the Labour Market Group, one of 26 workforce planning boards in Ontario funded by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, the report pointed to rising employment in health care and other service sectors in recent years, with demand expected to increase as the regional population continues to age.

The study, done in conjunction with the Northern Policy Institute, builds on previous reports as part of the Human Capital Series.

Shawn Chorney, vice-president of enrolment management, Indigenous and student services at Canadore College, said along with the region’s demographics getting order in the foreseeable future, the services those people will require will add pressure to the labour market.

“And so we are watching that closely and trying to work with our partners to ensure that we’re getting enough people into training programs to help fill that void,” he said.

The report found that between 2001 and 2016, total regional employment declined approximately 2.6 per cent.

Employment in the goods-producing sector fell 11.7 per cent, mainly due to losses in the manufacturing and forestry industries, but was offset by rising employment in mining.

The services-producing sector, meanwhile, has remained relatively constant, with the only industries seeing significant growth in employment being health care and social assistance, professional services, and waste management and remediation services related to mining.

“There’s a chronic shortage of personal support workers in our region and there’s a perception out there that it’s not good work, that it’s not rewarding work, and in reality it’s very hard work, but it’s a helping profession and the narrative needs to shift and we need to do that as a community, and I think that’s something our program and our partnerships can do,” Chorney said.

The study also warns that approximately 80 per cent of the workforce in 2031 will need post-secondary credentials, such as an apprenticeship, college diploma or university degree.

By comparison, the proportion of working-age people in Nipissing district with post-secondary credentials, based on the 2016 census, was 62.1 per cent, compared to 65.1 per cent across Ontario.

For Indigenous people, that number was 55.9 per cent in Nipissing and 52.8 per cent in Ontario.

The report also quoted a survey of 50 companies in advanced manufacturing, manufacturing, mining, and professional and scientific services in Northern Ontario who ranked difficulties in finding qualified employees as their top concern.

“As long as we’re lagging behind the province, it sends a message to industry and to regional employers that we … may not have the work force they need,” Chorney said.

Nipissing district also has experienced disproportionately low rates of immigration, with 1,028 people coming in between 2001 and 2016, compared with 1,754 total emigration.

The federal government recently announced that North Bay would be part of an immigration pilot project that will match qualified immigrants to jobs and give them a path to permanent residency.

The report also made note of the opportunities to partner with Indigenous people, who continue to make up a growing share of Nipissing’s population — 14.2 per cent in 2016, compared to 7.4 per cent in 2001.

Chorney said approximately 25 per cent of the student body at Canadore College is Indigenous, who are studying everything including health care, film and trades.

“Because they are the fastest growing segment of Canada’s population, it only makes sense there’s representation in the workforce of everybody who makes up our country.”

A statement provided by a Nipissing University spokesperson said the school continues its commitment to helping the community grow and prosper.

“Our programs are structured for graduates to stay in the North to serve the public and private sector as well as contribute to resolving the environmental and economic challenges in the North,” the statement read.

“Additionally, through attracting, retaining, and training a vibrant and dynamic workforce, we look forward to continuing to expand our significant economic impact on the North Bay area.”

Other findings in the report:

Total employment in Northeastern Ontario has declined from 250,000 in 2006, to just under 248,000 in 2011 and 242,000 in 2016
The region’s share of the province’s population fell from 6.23 per cent in 1986 to 5.77 per cent in 1991, 4.83 per cent in 2001, 4.29 per cent in 2011 and 4.07 per cent in 2016
Significant out-migration of youth and a low fertility rate, relative to the generational replacement rate, are factors behind the declining population trend
The unemployment rate for men rose from 9.9 per cent in 2001 to 12.1 per cent in 2016, while for women it fell from 8.5 per cent to 7.7 per cent
The unemployment rate for Indigenous men fell from 18.3 per cent to 17.5 per cent between 2001 and 2016, but rose from 12.9 per cent to 13.4 per cent for Indigenous women

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