Businesses need to recruit more foreigners: Kenney
Published Thursday, January 26, 2012 6:48PM EST
Immigration Minister Jason Kenney says Canadian businesses should be doing more to seek out and recruit foreign workers who can use their skills in vocations suffering from labour shortages in this country.
Kenney said Thursday that too many immigrants are still coming to Canada with hopes of a better life, only to find themselves either unemployed or in subsistence jobs.
"That's a problem for them, it's a waste for Canada and their home countries," Kenney told CTV's Power Play.
Traditionally, Canada's immigration system has been based on a points system which included language and other general skills. But Kenney said the old system doesn't go far enough to ensure new Canadians prosper.
Kenney said that on the provincial level, a program to bring in skilled workers has been a great success, since it allows officials on the ground to actively find the workers they need.
That's why the Provincial Nominee Program will be expanded 10-fold.
"Now we've expanded it massively. In fact, this year we expect about 45,000 permitted immigrants coming in through the Provincial Nominee Program."
Kenney added that the program does a better job of linking workers to job shortages, meaning fewer examples of trained engineers driving cabs in Toronto while job vacancies exist in the Prairies.
The program is also in tune with Prime Minister Stephen Harper's contention that immigration is key to future economic growth, Kenney said.
"Really what the prime minister is saying is, let's make the most of the immigration programs we have to fuel economic growth, to bring in people with the skills we need," he said.
However, Kenney suggested that Canadian business needs to be more proactive in recruiting those workers, too. He used the example of well-educated southern Europeans going to Latin America to find work.
"We want businesses out there recruiting on an international scale," said Kenney, who added that Canada will continue to honour its humanitarian heritage of uniting families and ensuring refugees can emigrate.
Immigration lawyer Chantal Desloges agreed that business needs to be more aggressive to take advantage of the immigration program.
"Anything that we can do to match the types of immigrants coming in to the types of jobs that are realistically available to them is a step in the right direction," she said.
"Our business owners are, for some reason, very gun shy about recruiting foreign workers."