By Lincoln DePradine
The Ontario government has repeatedly said the province needs more workers in some sectors, including the skilled trades. According to the government, “nearly 300,000 jobs are going unfilled daily’’.
Now, a plan has been announced to double the number of “economic immigrants’’ to help solve the labour shortage in the Province of Ontario.
These immigrants, some of whom could be from the Caribbean and African, are required for jobs not just in construction, but also in other fields such as technology and healthcare.
The province, in an agreement announced last Saturday with the federal government, is increasing the number coming into Ontario from 9,000 immigrant workers to more than 18,000 in 2025.
The announcement is “a significant win for the people of Ontario and will help us control our economic destiny by selecting more of the skilled immigrants we know are well-placed to succeed and build stronger communities for all of us’’, said Monte McNaughton, Ontario’s Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development.
Sean Fraser, Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, said he shares an “outstanding working relationship’’ with McNaughton, and is looking forward “to continuing to work with the province to achieve our shared economic immigration objectives’’.
Immigration, Fraser said, “is a key part of the solution’’ to “addressing the acute labour market shortages and building a strong economy into the future’’.
The proposed increased number of “economic immigrants’’ follows a 2021 call for action from the feds by the Conservative administration of Premier Doug Ford. It’s being done under the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP).
Ontario reached its allocation of 9,750 immigrants through the OINP in 2022. The number included 3,900 skilled trades workers; 2,200 software and IT workers; and nearly 100 nurses and personal support workers.
OINP allows the province to nominate individuals for permanent residence who have the skills and experience to contribute to Ontario’s economy.
The planned increase in the number of immigrant workers has been welcomed by several sectoral groups, including the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, Eastern Construction Company and Newcomer Women’s Services Toronto.
“As an organization who has been providing essential support services to immigrants for over 40 years, we welcome and support minister McNaughton and minister Fraser’s announcement to increase the number of economic immigrants coming to Ontario,’’ said Sara Asalya, executive director of Newcomer Women’s Services.
“This announcement also represents and showcases government coordinated efforts at the provincial and federal levels in recognizing immigrants’ significant contributions to the province’s economic growth and prosperity. Increasing immigration levels will have positive impacts on our province, including boosting our economy, addressing labour market needs, and enhancing cultural diversity.’’
Bryan G. Arnold, president and CEO of Eastern Construction Company, commended the Ontario government for tackling the labour shortage issue.
“We applaud Premier Doug Ford and minister McNaughton taking these steps to help us deliver crucial infrastructure projects in a timely and efficient manner,’’ Arnold said. “Eastern Construction fully supports and commends the provincial government for their tireless efforts in solving the skilled trades shortage that plagues our industry. One of the keys to solving this problem is increased immigration of skilled tradespeople.’’
Chamber of Commerce president, Rocco Rossi, expressed appreciation, thanked “the governments of Canada and Ontario for their continued action to support our ability to attract talent to the province’’.
Boosting the province’s “allocation of economic immigrants under the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program will help address labour shortages and ensure businesses find employees with the right skills’’, he added.