OTTAWA - Canada's budget watchdog says there is little evidence of serious labour shortages or a skills mismatch problem in the country.
And the finding by the parliamentary budget office could once again put it on a collision course with the Harper Conservatives.
The government has made much of a skills mismatch to justify measures like the foreign temporary workers program, stricter unemployment insurance eligibility rules and the Canada Jobs Grant, unpopular with the provinces.
But the PBO says there is no evidence to suggest the current situation is any different from that prior to the 2008-09 recession, and that some level of skills mismatch in an economy is normal.
The report does find some pockets of market tightness, particularly in Saskatchewan.
Its conclusion echoes a Statistics Canada report last week that found about 200,000 job vacancies across the country in December, the lowest level since the agency began tracking the data in March 2011.
Overall, the PBO says Canada's labour market is below trend levels in most indicators, including hours worked, high levels of unemployment and low participation rates.