Immigration will ‘continue to grow in importance’

Ashley Fitzpatrick
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Minister says new Canadians will help address labour shortages

Federal Immigration Minister Jason Kenney is in St. John’s today, spreading the word on the hows and whys of incoming changes to federal immigration regulations.  

The changes, he said, will be significant for Newfoundland and Labrador, particularly in terms of easing the pressures caused by an aging workforce.

“Immigration is going to, I think, I predict, continue to grow in importance in Atlantic Canada, including in Newfoundland, because of the skill shortages, because of the aging of the population,” Kenney said.

“We don’t really have much choice but to try to address that partly through immigration. Obviously immigration is not ‘the solution’ to the aging population and the shrinking labour force, it is only a solution and we need to do a much better job of getting Canadians into the workforce.”

Kenney spent about half an hour responding to questions from The Telegram around changes to the various streams for applicants seeking to become new Canadians, including skilled workers.

“Here’s the strange thing... We have a bit of a paradox in that we have large and growing labour shortages which we predict are going to be the major problem in the Canadian economy in the foreseeable future and yet we still have a lot of unemployed Canadians. In fact we’re bringing in a lot of immigrants here who end up being unemployed or underemployed — in an economy with labour shortages,” he said.

In talking about the underemployed, Kenney made note of the “phenomenon” of the “the medical doctor driving a taxi cab.” The federal government will be using certification bodies for medical professionals and skilled workers in other fields, to assess an applicant’s credentials before they come to Canada. This, Kenney said, will provide entrants to Canada with a better sense of their standing before they dive into the immigration process and give up their time and money.

It also helps to avoid “the medical doctor driving a taxi cab,” unless that’s the doctor’s choice.

Nationally, the main source region for immigrants to Canada is Asia, Kenney said, “but I think we see a more diverse makeup of immigrants to Newfoundland.”

Rather than point of origin, “the more important question for me is what skills they bring,” he said.

While in the province, the federal minister will be meeting with Minister of Advanced Education, Joan Burke, to discuss the provincial nominee program and issues relating to immigration aimed at filling jobs.

Kenney also stopped at the Association for New Canadians, to honour long-time executive director Bridget Foster with the Paul Yuzyk Award for Multiculturalism. The award is handed out once a year and Foster is the first to receive it in Atlantic Canada.

It comes with a $20,000 grant for the association.

More from the conversation with Kenney will be available in tomorrow’s print and digital editions of The Telegram.

Geographic location: Atlantic Canada, Newfoundland and Labrador, Asia

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Recent comments

  • Fred
    June 14, 2016 - 02:49

    If anyone wants to know what letting lots of immigrants in to your home looks like, just ask Germany

  • jan
    June 29, 2014 - 12:37

    A few comments. Im from the east . People are on welfare barely eating with degrees. My sisters boyfriend could only find work in a factory then he moved to the u.s. and moved up the chain of a grocer to top level in 5 yrs. He had a business degree. I know others with degrees working at Tims and min wage jobs. The new grads cant find any work in anything not even min wage jobs. 50% of the call centers moved overseas

  • jane
    June 29, 2014 - 10:54

    This is hogwash! Half of the east coast of canada left the east coast and its been neglected for 75 years. Maritimers are just as educated as anywhere else in canada. I am from nb. I am educated and i had to leave there many times as i would have had little work. Also of IT people have left as companies left to asia. My sister lives there she has yrs of exp in IT and she could lose her job anyday there. Her kids cant find work there. Her husband is an electrical contractor and he has little work for one year. He was making 200000 a year there.

  • Cheryl P.
    June 18, 2012 - 18:01

    To the business man. I find by your remarks that you probably are not Canadian born for if you were you would be encouraging the hiring of Canadians. The problem of this country is that they took manpower out the picture to promote mass immigration for the ethnic vote. Canada ran fine when this was in place and most Canadians were working. They only brought in people that were needed to do jobs Canadians could not do. If this still was the case the Canadians would be trained as needed instead of the influx of mass immigration for the allmighty vote and the outsourceing of every good job in Canada to every other country for cheap labour. So please think about that before putting down hard working Canadian born people!!!!!!

  • a business man
    May 24, 2012 - 07:26

    Actually, we do need more immigrants. I have no problem with immigrants coming and bringing their culture with them. I support the added competition in the workforce.....may the most qualified win. I do agree that medical professionals should have to right Canadian exams, but lets remember that a doctor is more valuable to Canada that a boatloat of unskilled uneducated workers. I would much rather bring in immigrants instead of using tax dollars to train local displaced workers. Why spend the tax dollars when there are immigrants who are trained and ready to work? Why not put the money into health care instead. Regarding the 60+ year olds who are still quite capable and willing to be trained and work in available jobs after being displaced or forced to retire........I don't want the government to use tax dollars to train these workers, and I certainly will not spend my money to train them. From an economic point of view, there is no need to train these people. There are immigrants who are trained and ready to work. Even though you say that these 60+ year olds want to work, are dependable, have proven track records and lots of experience but may not have a degree or certificate from a college, I I still maintain that training them is wasteful because we can get immigrants who are already trained. Furthermore, at this day and age, I will not hire someone without a degree to do anything. Any skills or knowledge that one has acquired without a degree is skills or knowledge that someone else, say an immigrant or anyone off the street, can acquire easily .There is no reason to hire someone without a degree because there are many many unemployed university grads looking for work....why would I hire a 60 year old when I can get a university grad instead? makes no sense to me. Even though you may be right as to how many capable Canadians will jump at the opportunity to continue their careers, I must reiterate that training these Canadians costs money that I do not want the government to spend; money that I will not spend to train an employee. The better solution is to get immigrants that can meet our needs immediately.

    • Edmund
      May 24, 2012 - 10:09

      My goodness, you must be either from central canada or an immigrant yourself or both. Bringing in immigrants to work in any country is a last resort that even the politician s want to avoid if at all possible. I would take a 60+ year old who has a good education with lots of excellent work experience living in their own community making a positive contribution vs. a landed immigrant any day. Such things as, language, community knowledge, strong work ethic, dependable and willingness to be on the job trained (when necessary) far surpass the risks involved by hiring immigrants who do not meet our needs immediately as there is a long training curve associated with them too (I know, been there done that). Invest in our own and then, if the personelle is not available for a particular job and it is absolutely necessary, go outside but with very strict regulations to obtain work permits and write qualifing exams. As far as unemployed university grads without work, they will have to understand that just because they have a degree they will not always get that $100K job right out of the gate which they have come to expect. They still have to earn their way up the ladder just like all of those 60+ folk had to do and are still willing to do so. And by the way a lot of those 60+ folk have university degrees and college diplomas.

  • Edmund
    May 23, 2012 - 16:42

    We don't need more immigrants. There are enough of these CFA's coming to Canada with their own agendas to change our way of life instead of staying in their own countries and try to make a difference there. We see them on the newscasts involved in demonstrations and protests every other week and the situation only gets worse the more of them we let into the country. Also, is a medical degree in India the same as getting one here in Canada? I understand from speaking with some local medical professionals it is not and if we want foreign professionals to come here they should ALL be made write the same medical and other professional designation exams as our local professionals. What we DO need is a government to direct their attention to training all the local displaced workers in the required skill sets for the sectors where there are shortages. Like the 60+ year olds who are still quite capable and willing to be trained and work in available jobs after being displaced or forced to retire. These 60+ year olds want to work, are dependable, have proven track records and lots of experience but may not have a degree or certificate from a college because it was not a critical requirement when they started working 30+ years ago (a high school matric education was considered good education plus years of on the job training). I suggest the National politicians in Ottawa start looking at the rest of the country outside of central Canada (Ontario and Quebec in particular) to get a clearer picture of what other parts of our nation need and want. We do not need or want any more immigrants (doctors especially) driving taxis on a shift system and then taking advantage of a social security (health care etc. etc.) that they would never get in their country that all of our local displaced 60+ year olds contributed to in the 30+ years that they worked tirelessly to develop only to have their benefits cut back because of the increasing number of immigrants. Try offering training where it is needed. One will be surprised at how many capable Canadians will jump at the opportunity to continue their careers thus eliminating the need to open the immigration floodgates plus the huge costs of having them here.

  • robert tucker
    May 23, 2012 - 15:09

    It is interesting to note that Mr Kenny is discusing the importance of immigrants to Newfoundland Labrador! While this is true, the changes in the EI program will force current recipents/ season workers from Newfoundland Labrador to move to Alberta for employment, thus leaving a shortage of workers in our province! Now does the immigration policy then make sence? Obviously not! We need to find ways to keep our skilled workers to stay home rather than bringing imigrants to fulfill shortages! On the other hand if our own workers are not enough to fill the needs of the province, then by all means encourage those from out the province to come! Newfoundlanders fill positions that most Albertans will not or are not qualified to do! Thus, no need to argue about those workers going to Alberta! Any way, Kenny plies his tade and thos foolish enough to listen to him will! So much for politics!

  • a business man
    May 23, 2012 - 14:58

    the minister said “the more important question for me is what skills they bring,” This is good news. This is connected to my rants on unskilled uneducated workers. North America has too many unskilled uneducated workers, so many that the forces of supply and demand mean that there is no reason why an employer would pay someone the Canadian minimum wage when cheaper workers who can do the same work are available in the USA and Mexico. What we DO have a shortage of is knowledge based professionals in the fields of accounting, health care, research and development, science and technology, and pharmaceuticals.....and so on. Selecting immigrants based on what skills they bring to the table is the best course of action. It aims to fill the needs of employers and give and opportunity to the best and most well educated minds of the future.

  • henry
    May 23, 2012 - 14:46

    We're bring people in to work, when Newfoundland has the highest unemployment rate in the country, with fish plants, and mills closing? Don't make sense to me?

    • a business man
      May 24, 2012 - 07:29

      see Henry, that is the problem. NL has too many fishery workers, too many mill/factory workers, but not enough accountants, innovators, IT people, programmers, and so on. We need people to fill the jobs of the future. NL has breeded some top students and professionals in the above fields, but they quickly head west. I know this because I have hired some NLers for some of those jobs in central Canada. The work ethic of these ppl shows me that NLers are very talented. But the point is that these people are not in NL, so NL needs immigrants to fill the holes.