New Report Shows Atlantic Bio-Economy Faces Labour Shortage


OTTAWA, Ontario–()–The bio-economy, a vibrant sector of Atlantic Canada’s economy, is poised to create jobs, but the current pipeline for those positions is three-quarters empty.

This was the conclusion of an unprecedented labour market by BioTalent Canada released this fall. Today, the organization released eight reports that unpack the current landscape, trends, challenges, and opportunities facing each region.

The report on Atlantic Canada concludes the region will require another 3,300 bio-economy workers by 2029. However, current estimates indicate there will not be enough talent supply to meet labour demands, with significant pressure now and mounting throughout the decade. Atlantic Canada will be challenged to fill positions due in part to its relatively small size in a highly competitive national market that will attract candidates to larger urban centres. Atlantic Canada’s struggle to retain young graduates and newcomers exacerbates the shortfall of available talent and is unique among all regions of Canada.

The reports note that the COVID-19 pandemic exposed significant gaps in the Canadian bio-economy, particularly in bio-manufacturing and processing capacity. While in much of the country the gap is in health-related sectors, in Atlantic Canada the need will be felt sharpest in the agri-bio subsector.

Estimates suggest Atlantic Canada will need an additional 1,050 bio-manufacturing workers by 2029 – more than half of whom (56%) will be needed for the agri-bio sector, with another third in the bio-industrial sub-sector. Only 25% of those positions will be filled by predicted supply during this period.

“To eliminate the shortfall, the bio-economy will need to develop new HR strategies,” says BioTalent President and CEO Rob Henderson. “This must include broadening the talent pool to include recent immigrants, Indigenous workers and workers with disabilities – who are all seriously under-represented in the bio-economy today. We must also improve how we promote the bio-economy as an exciting and viable local career path. Atlantic Canada retains only 70% of its graduates, a number that, should it improve to equal the national average, would bolster the talent pool significantly.”

Other notable findings in the Atlantic Canada regional analysis:

  • While the overall economy in Atlantic Canada declined because of COVID-19, the bio-economy fared reasonably well. Employment in the region’s bio-economy is expected to grow slightly but steadily at around 0.7% per year in the short and medium/longer terms.
  • The bio-economy in Atlantic Canada comprises some 900 organizations, accounting for 6% of Canada’s bio-economy companies.
  • These organizations collectively employed around 10,800 people in 2019, including commercial businesses as well as hospital and university research institutions.
  • 18% of bio-economy companies in Atlantic Canada gross more than $50 million annually, compared to 7% of organizations across Canada.
  • Women account for roughly one-third of bio-economy workers in Atlantic Canada.

For additional information and to read the full reports, visit:

Funded in part by the Government of Canada’s Sectoral Initiatives Program.

About BioTalent Canada

BioTalent Canada supports the people behind life-changing science. Trusted as the go-to source for labour market intelligence, BioTalent Canada guides bio-economy stakeholders with evidence-based data and industry-driven standards. BioTalent Canada is focused on igniting the industry’s brainpower bridging the gap between job-ready talent and employers and ensuring the long-term agility, resiliency, and sustainability of one of Canada’s most vital sectors. Recently named one of the 50 Best Workplaces in Canada with 10-50 employees and certified as a Great Place to Work® for 2021, BioTalent Canada practices the same industry standards it recommends to its stakeholders. These distinctions were awarded to BioTalent Canada following a thorough and independent survey analysis conducted by Great Place to Work®.

For more information, please visit

Rob Henderson is available for comment.


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