Canada’s record population growth has amplified a labor shortage in key professions. BC is hoping its new International Credentials Recognition Act (ICRA) can help. The recently tabled legislation is designed to attract immigrants to certain fields by recognizing foreign credentials. Most would agree on the list of professions, with just a tiny exception. Have you ever heard anyone complain about the shortage of real estate agents and brokers? Not in Canada.
BC Seeks To Attract Immigrants To Address Labor Shortages In Key Industries
BC ICRA legislation seeks to attract international talent with faster credential recognition. The idea is to fill essential professions with shortages by recognizing foreign experience. Last year, the province launched a similar program for doctors and nurses. The latest legislation focuses on 29 professions, including teachers, veterinarians, lawyers, and paramedics.
If one scrolls all the way to the bottom though, there’s a few roles that are a little less agreeable. BC included real estate agents, associate brokers, and managing real estate brokers. Before discussing the perceived shortage, let’s take a look at the numbers.
BC Is A Province With More Real Estate Agents Per Capita Than LA
BC has a robust reputation as a real estate hub. It goes back to the 80s, when the global elite began to use homes in the province as a store of wealth. Consequently, it has a world-wide reputation for its extensive real estate services.
One of those services is real estate professionals, a.k.a. real estate agents and brokers. Data from the BCFSA, the province’s regulator for real estate professionals, backs up the anecdotes. They saw massive annual growth of 6% to hit 29,100 real estate professionals in 2022. Running at 3x the rate of the 2% population growth, which is considered robust, is healthy at minimum.
It’s hard to really grasp large numbers with context—like, how many people is 29,100 anyway? Let’s give it some. Monthly average sales work out to 1 home sold for every 4 agents and brokers. In BC, about 1 in 189 people are agents or brokers—and some of those people are babies. The general population, not the agents.
Isolating the babies and retirees, let’s just look at the province’s labor force. About 1 in 102 workers in BC are real estate professionals (agents & brokers). Even higher than the ratio we found in Greater Vancouver last year (1 in 146 workers). Actually, the concentration is about 60% higher than New York City, and more than 2x Los Angeles.
BC Is Addressing A Labor Shortage, Industries Are Addressing A Voter Shortage
All of this isn’t to disparage real estate professionals—there just isn’t a shortage. A definite shortage exists in areas like healthcare, finance, and social services. Trades are also incredibly scarce, especially with a wave of Boomers about to retire.
Sneaking in real estate professionals into a list of undersupplied professions is odd. It makes more sense if one knows the province made the list based on industry trade group feedback. Though with home sales falling to a near record low in many regions, why beef up the supply of agents on low volumes? From the outside, it almost looks like agents and brokers fund a group to lower commissions.
Pursuing greater political clout is the only possible reason that really makes sense. The trade groups that represent real estate agents and brokers, also do lobbying. They have a significant impact on policy, especially when leveraging its massive membership. Having more voices is helpful in the event policies began to erode a lucrative market.