A wave of Canadian companies has shifted into job-cut mode as competitive pressures, weaker commodity prices and the perception Canada is a costly place to do business dent confidence.
A raft of layoffs and plant closings have been announced in recent months in sectors ranging from manufacturing to retail, media and energy. The timing of the announced reductions vary, but a conservative tally shows they number more than 4,800 workers since Oct. 1.
Companies cite various reasons for the cuts, but some common threads emerge. Some firms, such as Kellogg on Tuesday, cite changing consumer tastes (as cereal consumption declines). For some, such as Heinz, it's excess capacity, while others, such as auto supplier Faurecia, cite higher costs in Canada. Some, such as media companies, are grappling with changing economics in their industry. Others, such as Potash, are coping with lower commodity prices. And in the government's case, 43,000 fewer public-sector jobs in the past year reflect fiscal constraint.
Some global firms, such as Kellogg, are shifting work to cheaper jurisdictions to save costs.
The private sector has been a key driver of job creation this year and most economists don't expect to see mass layoffs in the coming months. Manpower's survey on hiring plans showed a steady outlook in the first quarter, with 13 per cent of firms expecting to add to staff and 8 per cent anticipating cutbacks.
On the public sector side, employment in public-administration has fallen by a record 5.3. per cent in the past year, making it the weakest of all sectors, Bank of Montreal's Benjamin Reitzes noted. Last month alone saw a drop of nearly 52,000 positions. "Restraint at all levels of government has hit this sector hard," he said. "With the federal government and most provinces still looking to balance the books, don't expect a comeback any time soon."
This year, employment growth has been the weakest, outside a recession, since 2001, he said.
Here is a list of some of the employers that have announced or made work-force reductions in the past several months. (Note: Cuts at Faurecia include 550 full-time employees and 100 temporary workers. Potash cuts include at least 1,000 and cuts at Yellow Media affect around 300 employees.)