Archived — Research Summaries: Working Paper 2007-09: Barriers to the Inter-Provincial Mobility of Labour

by Rafael Gomez and Morley Gunderson.

Abstract

This paper analyzes policy, knowledge gaps and research issues regarding interprovincial labour mobility in Canada and the barriers that inhibit it. The study looks at the theoretical determinants of inter-provincial labour mobility, evidence on inter-provincial mobility and its determinants, and barriers to the inter-provincial mobility of labour and barrier removal policies (options). It also draws lessons learned for Canada by examining the European Union experience free mobility of labour within the union. The paper concludes that comprehensive and rigorous cost-benefit assessments of enhanced interprovincial labour mobility have not been done and are not likely to be feasible given the myriad components that are involved. It also suggests that there is no single barrier to inter-provincial mobility that obviously dominates, although removing excessive barriers that exist in occupational certification of the professions and trades looms large. Disincentives to such mobility fostered by transfer programs like Employment Insurance are also important, although the extent of that importance is in some dispute. Improvement in labour market information is also important not only to foster interprovincial mobility but also as a more general labour market adjustment strategy. The paper also proposes that a barrier removal strategy to foster inter-provincial labour mobility should involve a "continuous improvement strategy" on the various fronts that affect such mobility.

Key words: labour mobility, labour markets, human capital

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