Canada is already facing a chronic labour shortage, and it will only get worse as we progress towards negative population growth by as early as 2034. Immigrants are making a significant beneficial contribution to our social, cultural and economic prosperity.
This spring, at a meeting of the Greater Victoria Local Immigration Partnership (GVLIP), Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce CEO, Catherine Holt, noted that immigration is “vital to our economic prosperity.” According to the Conference Board of Canada, our economy could slow down by 1/3 or more unless we boost immigration targets to 1% of our population by 2030. Based on Canada’s current targets, we will see around 340,000 newcomers in 2020 with approximately 1,500 people coming to the Greater Victoria area, so these targets are well with in reach.
The simple truth is that immigrants are not taking our jobs. They are helping to drive our economy, and we need the skills immigrants and refugees can provide to help move forward with positive economic growth on both a local and national scope.
Agencies such as ICA play a key role in supporting the goals of newcomers with employment programs that focus on their needs. Tim Blake, Manager of Employment Services at ICA, says, “Getting a job is a very high priority for most newcomers, and our programs are focused not just on helping them with their job search, but also on helping them to find work that is appropriate to their skills and experience and to retain their positions, creating positive relationships and stability for both the employers and the employees.”
In January of this year, ICA was selected as one of just 10 agencies across the country to pilot a new Workplace Occupation Readiness & Connections (WORC) for Women program to support visible minority immigrant women in their career success in Canada. Based on its success, Laura Guarin, one of ICA’s Immigrant Employment Specialists, is currently preparing to offer the second cohort for this program which begins June 17. It’s rewarding to see the direct benefit that programs like this have for people. Feedback forms from the first graduates of the WORC program are full of comments like, “I did not know I had so many skills to offer the employer. I feel more confident now.”
Ai Sakamoto, Employment Services Coordinator at ICA, is excited to launch another new employment program later this month. The Game Changer program is aimed at immigrant youth who are 18 to 24 years of age, have good English language proficiency (CLB level 5), and are not currently in school or employed in a stable position. ICA will be hosting two information sessions on June 5 and 12 to provide full program details and get youth registered.
There’s a very symbiotic relationship between the goals of newcomers and their new country: both want to prosper and thrive in a diverse and inclusive society, and having secure, meaningful employment is important to all of us. Being an international leader in successful immigration and integration will give Canada a competitive edge in the global economy. As Catherine Holt reminds us, “Immigrants certainly arrive with advanced educations and fresh perspectives on solutions for the challenges that we face.”Good immigration policies and programs are our best way to build a successful future for all Canadians.
For more information on Game Changer, email Ai Sakamoto at firstname.lastname@example.org.
See the Game Changer Information Session poster here.