New report shows Québec bio-economy creating jobs, but needs workers

Labour market study underscores gaps exposed by COVID-19 pandemic

Ottawa, December 6, 2021 – The bio-economy, a potentially burgeoning sector of the Québec 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 study 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 Québec and an accompanying report on Greater Montreal conclude the region will require another 15,500 bio-economy workers by 2029. And current estimates indicate there will not be enough workers to meet labour needs, with significant pressure now and mounting throughout the decade. Québec will be challenged to fill positions in a highly competitive labour market as well as finding candidates with the right skills.

The reports note that the COVID-19 pandemic exposed significant gaps across the Canadian bio-economy, particularly in bio-manufacturing and processing capacity, which saw Canada initially unable to produce sufficient protective equipment and with no domestic capacity to develop and manufacture vaccines. Efforts to close this gap will be hampered by a lack of qualified labour, especially in a province like Québec which seeks to expand its manufacturing sector.

Estimates suggest Quebec will need an additional 3,970 bio-manufacturing workers by 2029 (1,540 in bio-health manufacturing alone) even without considering expansion due to recently announced federal investments. Only 25% of those positions will be fillable by predicted supply during this period.

“To fill the shortages, Quebec’s bio-economy will need to develop new 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. Québec must also focus on making the industry more attractive to female talent, even though the province has a slightly higher percentage of employing women than the national average.”

Other notable findings in the Québec regional analysis:

  • Québec’s bio-economy consists of about 2,800 organizations – mainly small and medium-sized businesses – collectively employing some 55,000 people in 2019 and accounting for 20% of the Canadian bio-economy workforce.
  • The Québec bio-economy workforce covers a wide range of occupations, with research & development and manufacturing accounting for just under half of all jobs.
  • The Québec bio-economy is expected to grow slightly during the 2021-2029 forecast period. Most new hires will be required by the bio-health sub-sector, with a significant number also needed in bio-industrial.
  • Graduates in bio-economy related fields of study tend to stay in the region. Approximately 90% of the 2015 graduates from Québec universities in these fields were working in the same region in 2018.
  • Québec’s language requirements likely influence graduate mobility both into and out of the province. Francophone workers may appreciate being able to work in their first language, making them less likely to look for opportunities elsewhere, while candidates from outside the province may be hesitant or unable to pursue jobs in Québec if their French skills are not sufficient.

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

Media Inquiries

Siobhan Williams
Director, Marketing and Communications

BioTalent Canada
613-235-1402 ext. 229
[email protected]

Rob Henderson is available for comment.