How Businesses Can Help New Immigrants Boost Canada’s Economy After COVID-19

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A senior figure at one of Canada’s top banks has urged governments and businesses to assist the seamless integration of newcomers, describing immigration as ‘a form of economic stimulus’.

Dan Rees, group head of Canadian banking at Scotiabank, believes immigration can be a way out of the economic woe caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Writing in the Globe and Mail, Rees states: “The more educated and productive people we attract, the more our quality of life improves and we can maintain the things that make Canada strong. Immigration is a form of economic stimulus.

“At a time when governments are doing their utmost to support the economy, we should use every engine of growth we can to carry us through the pandemic.”

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Rees highlights how Canada’s population growth would likely have stalled or be in decline if it was not for immigration, like many of Canada’s fellow Group of Seven Countries.

He lauds Canada’s immigration policies, including the points-based Express Entry system, for creating a foreign-born population that is 60 percent highly educated, compared to 40 percent in the United States.

Through Express Entry Canada is able to match newcomers to in-demand occupations and ensure they are young, educated and have knowledge of official languages.

“Because of our immigration policies, Canada now welcomes five times as many skilled newcomers as a percentage of its population than the U.S. does,” Rees writes. 

“Over the past two years, pre-COVID-19, new Canadians saw significantly higher employment gains than Canadian-born people.”

Canada’s federal government is doing its part by planning to welcome more than 400,000 newcomers per year in 2021, 2022 and 2023, the majority of which will be economic immigrants. When that program can fully kick into gear is governed by how quickly COVID-19 can be brought under control, and travel restrictions eased.

Canada’s 2021-2023 Immigration Levels Plan

2021 2022 2023
Overall Planned Permanent Resident Admissions 401,000 411,000 421,000
Economic Federal High Skilled 108,500 110,500 113,750
Federal Business 1,000 1,000 1,000
Economic Pilots: Caregivers; Agri-Food Pilot; Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot 8,500 10,000 10,250
Atlantic Immigration Pilot 6,000 6,250 6,500
Provincial Nominee Program 80,800 81,500 83,000
Quebec Skilled Workers and Business See the Quebec immigration plan To be determined To be determined
Total Economic 232,500 241,500 249,500
Family Spouses, Partners and Children 80,000 80,000 81,000
Parents and Grandparents 23,500 23,500 23,500
Total Family 103,500 103,500 104,500
Refugees and Protected Persons Protected Persons in Canada and Dependents Abroad 23,500 24,500 25,000
Resettled Refugees – Government-Assisted 12,500 12,500 12,500
Resettled Refugees – Privately Sponsored 22,500 22,500 22,500
Resettled Refugees – Blended Visa Office-Referred 1,000 1,000 1,000
Total Refugees and Protected Persons 59,500 60,500 61,000
Humanitarian and Other Total Humanitarian and Other 5,500 5,500 6,000

With such high numbers of newcomers planned, Rees wants the business community to step up to help those immigrants when they arrive.

He calls for action from business in four main areas: Financial literacy, recruitment, professional integration and social and professional networks. These are the main ways Canada can help new permanent residents contribute to growing the economy as quickly as possible.

Rees concludes: “The pandemic will eventually pass, but the need to strengthen Canada – economically, demographically and culturally – will not go away. Let’s make sure immigration continues to be the Canadian advantage.”

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