Should You Hire An Inter-Provincial Employee?
By Joe Issid
Would you be surprised to hear that over 420,000 Canadians work in one province yet reside in another? According to Statistics Canada, about 3% of Canada's workforce do exactly this. These so-called inter-provincial employees constitute a significant (and growing) percentage of the workforce, causing many Canadians and their employers to recognize this arrangement as a legitimate possibility. As an employer, though, are there any specific obligations or dispensations that need to be taken into consideration when looking to hire someone who resides in a different province? Or what happens if a member of your team has decided to move to a new province but still intends to commute into work every day?
It is simply inevitable that you are going to receive a job application from out-of-province applicants. The ability to search for jobs beyond your geographic surroundings has made this practice commonplace. In previous times, this was certainly much more uncommon as people simply did not have the digital reach that we have today. And, historically, companies have been reluctant to hire out-of-towners as there is a perceived cost associated to recruitment. But now that we have the ability to easily apply for jobs in remote locations, these barriers have been removed and we need to embrace this new reality. Thing is, it doesn’t necessarily mean that we have to move to the province where said job is located.
Not only do candidates have the capacity to tap into these geographically disperse job markets, employers have the ability to recruit remotely as well. Given the fact that resources appear more willing to travel across provincial lines for work, companies can begin recruiting talent from areas that have traditionally been off-limits. Is it unreasonable for an Ottawa company to recruit a person who lives in Montreal’s West Island (a roughly 90-minute drive away)? A recruiter can make a strong case in favour of recruiting within Montreal as it does not necessarily mean that the candidate would need to move to Ottawa. Inter-provincial recruiting can certainly be a viable approach if a company is having a hard time finding qualified candidates locally.
Risks of commuting
In many cases, inter-provincial commuters have to travel a significant distance to get to work each and every day. Clearly, many employers will regard this as a risk as a long commute can take a great toll on the person and can affect job performance and their overall happiness. As a hiring manager, I am certainly wary of applicants who have to travel a great distance on a daily basis. On the flip side, mobile technologies provide commuters the facility to work while in transit; in fact, I currently manage an inter-provincial resource that commutes 4 hours each day, much of which is spent working in a quiet and uninterrupted environment that results in quality work and long work days.
Typically, a company does not incur any additional costs by hiring an inter-provincial employee. Payroll and benefit deductions should be independent of where the employee resides so no additional considerations need to be made by default. However, you may decide to provide special dispensations to the employee to facilitate their situation but there are no obligations to do so. Of course, you should consult with your company’s legal and accounting departments to ensure that this is the case for you.
As of 2008, there have been more inter-provincial employees in Alberta from Ontario than from Saskatchewan. While this is surprising (considering the distances involved), it is equally noteworthy that there were considerably fewer resources from Quebec. According to Statistics Canada, “in spite of the similarities between Ontario and Quebec in terms of population size and distance from Alberta, much smaller numbers of inter-provincial employees came from Quebec.”
While it is not possible to know the exact reasons for this discrepancy, it can be speculated that certain factors such as language barriers or trade certifications can be responsible. Before making any efforts at look into inter-provincial recruiting, it behooves you take the time to research where your most fertile markets are.
It can be incredibly difficult to determine how reliable an employee is going to be during the interview process. However, if you are aware that a candidate will be commuting inter-provincially, it is reasonable to discuss their desire and motivation to do so. If the candidate is highly mobile and is living in a temporary accommodation (which, speculatively, constitutes a fair amount of inter-provincial workers), you may want to consider how reliable they will be if you are looking for a long-term resource. As with any recruiting process, you should do your best to legislate against applicants who are looking for short-term solutions if you are looking for something more permanent.