A new Statistics Canada analysis shows Ontario’s status as the economic engine of Canada has been declining since 2003, with the manufacturing sector leading the retreat.
According to StatsCan, Canada’s largest province still has by far the largest share of payroll workers with 5.8 million non-farm employees. But as a share of the 15.3 million in Canada, Ontario’s portion has been trimmed to 38 per cent from 39.2 per cent in 2003.
Meanwhile, the proportion of non-farm employees in Alberta, British Columbia and Saskatchewan has been increasing.
Ontario’s biggest losses have come in the battered factory sector. StatsCan puts the manufacturing job losses in Ontario at 255,000 over the past decade, dropping the number of factory employees from 908,900 in January 2003 to 654,200 in September 2012.
Once the top employer in the province, manufacturing was surpassed by the retail sector in 2009, and now faces a challenge for second place from health-care and social assistance employees.
The province’s employment decline has been mirrored in the quality of jobs. The agency says average weekly salaries in Ontario rose 2.4 per cent to $908.59, but the increase is below the national average gain of 3.4 per cent.
In terms of average weekly wages, Ontario is just above the national average of $902.29, but bested by Alberta, Saskatchewan, Newfoundland, the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut.