The Great Promotion? How the pandemic changed the landscape of working Canadians

Just last week our work was cited in an article about ‘The Great Resignation’ in Canada. Numbers from a recent labour market survey suggest this wasn’t a significant phenomenon in Canada.

Instead, StatsCan data shows a Great Resignation is the bigger of our worries. (All the more reason to understand the younger folks who will be sticking around for some time and filling the gaps. But more on that later).

Beyond these big markers, we wanted to understand if there were any other shifts in the labour market. Even though people weren’t quitting, were they shifting around? And how many of us have been taking on additional work or education on the side? A few notable findings are below.

#1 One in five working Canadians transitioned roles during the pandemic.

Canadians may not have resigned en masse like our neighbours to the South, but while the pandemic was raging on, many working Canadians saw a transition in their job. Whether it be switching departments, a redefined title, or a promotion, 17% of employed Canadians say they’ve had at least one kind of transition to their role since March 2022. Among those 18-29, this number jumps to 31%.

#2 One in ten working Canadians upskilled or retrained during the pandemic.

10% of employed Canadians enrolled in formal/informal education/training while in the pandemic, either for their current industry or with the intention to transition. So, while Canadians were not engaged in a large-scale resignation, many had intentions to make some sort of shift.

This number is driven largely by younger employees, but interestingly not the youngest. Those 30-44 were most likely to have enrolled in some sort of education and training during the pandemic.

Another interesting trend: those in a private sector union are twice as likely as those in a public sector union (or no union at all) to have upskilled/retrained (18% vs. 7%).

#3 One in ten Canadians under 45 started a business during the pandemic.

According to StatsCan, self-employment has remained relatively stable throughout the pandemic. However, that doesn’t mean that we aren’t trying our hand at being CEO. Just under one in ten young Canadians (those under 45) had a go at starting a business during the pandemic.

THE UPSHOT According to Oksana Kishchuk:

Canada had its own fair share of labour market changes since the pandemic and while there was no Great Resignation our careers and ambitions haven’t been on pause for the last two years. But if there was no great resignation, what are some of the post-pandemic takeaways? The big takeaway is about young employees and their careers.

For those still deep in their working years, the pandemic was a time to move up, and refine skills, especially young people who are climbing the ladder. During the last two years young employees put their all into their job and career (likely also why we see higher instances of burnout).

Whether it be a role transition, enrolling in education to refine their skills, or taking a shot at starting a new business, young people used their time during the pandemic to advance their career. As more and more older employees turn to retirement these ambitious generations can help fill those gaps, but will require an acute understanding of the needs and desires of these younger generations.

For more insights on tourism and COVID-19, please reach out to Oksana, Director of Strategy & Insights at:


This survey was conducted with 1,500 Canadian adults from August 16th to 19th. The margin of error for a comparable probability-based random sample of the same size is +/- 2.5%, 19 times out of 20.

The survey was conducted using a random sample of panelists invited to complete the survey from a set of partner panels based on the Lucid exchange platform. These partners are double opt-in survey panels, blended to manage out potential skews in the data from a single source.

The data was weighted according to census data to ensure that the sample matched Canada’s population according to age, gender, educational attainment, and region. This poll was conducted and paid for by Abacus Data.

Abacus Data follows the CRIC Public Opinion Research Standards and Disclosure Requirements that can be found here:


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