Ontario needs more skilled workers — report

By Gerald V. Paul

Charles Sousa
A report that will form the blueprint for Ontario’s immigration strategy was revealed on Wednesday with a call for 135,000 more skilled immigrants a year to Ontario.

Also, the report, seven months in the making, noted there should be a greater role in selecting immigrants to ensure its needs are met and a the importance to renew Ontario’s partnership with Ottawa.

The report was presented to Ontario’s Immigration minister Charles Sousa on Wednesday, and it is expected to form the blueprint for the province’s first ever immigration strategy.

It was commissioned to deal with declining immigration, skill shortages and the falling wages of new immigrants to the province.
OCASSI’s Debbie Douglas, a member of the distinguished panel told The Camera, “Newcomers who have been in Ontario for less than five years earned 23.2 per cent less than Canadian-born counterparts in 2011.”
Douglas also stressed that only 24 per cent of internationally trained immigrants in Ontario were working in their actual field of training in 2010.

Ontario is expected to face a shortfall of 364,000 skilled workers by 2025, even though, as Douglas pointed out, less than a quarter of newcomers trained in their original countries find jobs in their professions on landing here, compared to 62 percent of Ontarians overall who work in the fields in which they are trained.

The declining age of Ontario’s workforce and low fertility rates are contributing to concerns that the province will face a serious manpower shortage if the immigration issue is not addressed immediately.
“Without any further immigration to Ontario, it is anticipated the working age population will begin to decline by 2014,” the report noted.
The focus in immigration comes even though recent figures show that immigrants in Ontario have not bee faring well in recent years.

In 2011, the province’s unemployment rate among immigrants was 15.7 percent – the second worst in the country and double the province’s overall unemployment rate of 7.6 percent.

The province is seeking to work with Ottawa to be given an active role in selecting immigrants to ensure its economic and other needs are met, similar to an agreement between Ottawa and Quebec.