No other sector of the economy is as diverse and multi-faceted as the nonprofit sector. Organizations vary in size, focus and reach, from small local frontline service providers to large umbrella organizations that manage national programs. Representing 7.2% of the country's total paid workforce, the collective salaries of employees in the nonprofit sector add up to an annual payroll of $22 billion. To put things in perspective, paid employees in the sector outnumber the total combined workforces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador. They also outnumber employees in the country's entire construction and hospitality industries combined.

The HR Council was established in 2005 to take the lead on labour force issues in the nonprofit sector. Based on extensive consultations with people across the sector, including the first ever comprehensive survey of nonprofit employers and employees, this is what we know:

Our sector is large and the contributions of its labour force are vital to our whole society. Nearly 1.2 million Canadians perform paid work in nonprofits. Our sector is powered by people with real skills and experience; the sector is its labour force. The health and sustainability of the nonprofit labour force has implications for all Canadians.

A passive approach to labour force issues is no longer an option. The competition for talent — locally, nationally and globally — is becoming increasingly intense. Other sectors across the Canadian economy are taking labour force issues very seriously; our sector must become more proactive about attracting people with the right skills. We cannot be complacent, or we run the risk of being left behind.

People in our sector understand the need for change but can’t do it alone. In countless discussions with people working in our sector, we have found that most people get it — they know that building the labour force we’ll need tomorrow requires strategic thinking today. But no individual, organization, funder, or board can create this change on their own. The HR Council is ready to help drive the change our sector needs by acting as a hub for information-sharing and a catalyst for labour force development and renewal.

Change has already begun. A range of players at the provincial and organizational levels have begun to take action to ensure that the sector attracts the people and skills it needs for the future. The HR Council aims to make it as easy as possible for others to become part of this change. We offer practical tools and information about workplace and HR issues. We are working to pool the sector’s knowledge and insights in this area, and to build connections among people and organizations. Based on extensive consultation with the sector, we have also begun to chart directions for strategic change on labour force issues.

Learn more about the nonprofit labour force