For many years, employment equity trends in Canada could only be tracked through the census. The census is conducted once every five years, and the results take a long time to be tabulated and released. For example, the employment data from the 2021 Census will not be available until September 2022.
The Labour Force Survey, carried out monthly by Statistics Canada, recently expanded the demographic data they collect to improve our understanding of employment equity, and specifically to address gaps for Black and racialized workers.
Labour market data for recent immigrants has been available since 2007, and for First Nations, Métis, and Inuit workers since 2008. Starting in January 2022, the Labour Force Survey is also asking workers to identify according to the demographic categories used by the census.
Data from January 2022 shows that there is a great deal of variation in unemployment rates between populations, and between men and women within and across populations. For example, South Asian women have a much higher unemployment rate than South Asian men or white women. First Nations men currently experience the highest unemployment rates, followed by First Nations, Arab, West Asian, and Black women.
This new demographic information will help us better understand how labour market discrimination affects workers, informing our approaches to equity at the bargaining table.