October 25, 2021

Protecting the promise of immigration

A stark reality for a country so heavily reliant on immigration: In 2020, Canada welcomed just under 185,000 immigrants. That’s down almost half from 2019 and is the lowest in any year since 1998! Facing significant demographic and labour-market challenges, we need an audacious plan to protect both the promise and the value of immigration.

From 2021-23, the Government of Canada aims to welcome over 400,000 new permanent residents each year. However, many new immigrants continue to face barriers that generate frustration and prevent employers from fully benefiting from their skills.

  • Any plan to increase immigration levels needs to be accompanied by increased supports to ensure skilled immigrants successfully settle and integrate into the labour market.

In our latest paper released last week, we set out to answer the “how?” in the immigration question: How can we ensure that those coming to start a new life in Canada have the resources and support they need to realize their aspirations?

We believe in “The role of newcomers and international students in driving Canadian economic growth.” Here’s how:

  1. A national employment pipeline for skilled newcomers will facilitate rapid and meaningful labour market integration. The big items in this list: a specific emphasis on a national workplace-focused language training program, work-integrated learning opportunities, and wraparound support services. We shared some examples of what we mean in a previous issue of Perspectives.
  2. We also need employer-recognized national microcredentials on in-demand Skills for Success (specifically those skills for success that newcomers most often lack without access to real Canadian work experiences). In April, we developed a new definition and guiding principles to serve as a national framework for microcredentials.
  3. Expanded streams to permanent residency for international students graduating from colleges and institutes will boost Canada’s talent pool. This recognizes the value of a Canadian credential in preparing students for the local labour market, as well as the additional supports colleges and institutes provide international students throughout their transition to Canadian life.

Newcomers and international students bring both economic and societal value to Canadian communities. But that value proposition is contingent upon the right support systems being in place.

  • If Canada truly wants to be a world leader in immigration, we need to both protect the promise of immigration (the promise of a better life in Canada) and ramp up our efforts to help skilled newcomers succeed in their new communities.