Ireland could provide some relief for Canada’s labour shortage, says the Newfoundland-born ambassador to the Emerald Isle.
Loyola Hearn, former MHA,
MP and current Canadian ambassador to Ireland, told the St. John’s Board of Trade about the Canada-Ireland connections, including $1.6 billion in trade and the fact that Ireland receives the sixth-most amount of Canadian foreign in-vestment.
And one of the country’s most valuable exports — currently in a recession that started in 2008, with an unemployment rate of 14 per cent — are workers.
“We have a lot of people asking about Canada, and the potential, everywhere I go, and I travel extensively in Ireland,” he said.
“There’s no place I go now where I don’t have people coming up who either have been to Canada or are going to Canada, want to go to Canada.”
Hearn said older Irish people have expressed concerns that the country is losing its young.
That’s something Newfoundlanders can relate to in the wake of a vanished labour force that headed west for employment after the cod moratorium.
“They are to an extent, but I always say you never lose young people by letting them go, and spread their wings and get experience,” Hearn said. “You lose young people by (them) hanging around with nothing to do.”
Hearn pointed out Ireland is geographically closer than Alberta.
“The connections here are becoming very, very strong, and we do have a lot of young Irish coming to Canada,” he said. “Canada now has become by far the destination of choice. If you went over and did a poll: ‘If you’re looking for work, where do you want to go?’ I would suggest six to eight out of 10 would say Canada.”
Hearn said Canada is more attractive than the United States, and Newfoundland and Labrador in particular needs to follow the lead of other Canadian provinces actively looking to attract an Irish workforce.
“We haven’t seen the push yet from Newfoundland looking for the workers that we’re seeing from Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and British Columbia in particular Saskatchewan, I think, leading the pack. They’ve latched right on to Ireland and they are really going after the skilled people,” he said. “I would think a lot of the new opportunities here — and some people are working on it by the way, this is coming together — I think over the next short while you’ll see a much more organized, concerted effort by Newfoundland to go after trained, skilled people.”