Half of Canada’s major employers want the country’s already record-breaking levels of immigration to be increased even more – and the remaining half want Ottawa to at least maintain the current high immigration levels, a survey reveals.

“Canada’s unemployment rate stands at a record low, underscoring the extent to which labour shortages are holding back the country’s economic recovery and exacerbating inflation,” says Goldy Hyder, president and CEO of the Business Council of Canada.

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“As the premiers prepare for next week’s Council of the Federation meeting in Victoria, we urge them to focus on measures that would expand Canada’s labour supply.”

80% Of Canadian Employers Having Trouble Filling Available Jobs

The business advocacy group released a report in June, Canada’s Immigration Advantage: A Survey of Major Employers, in which it highlighted the serious lack of qualified workers to fill jobs in Canada.

“Eighty per cent of surveyed employers are having trouble finding skilled workers,” noted the business advocacy group in that report. “Shortages exist in every province and territory but are most pronounced in Ontario, Quebec, and British Columbia. 

“Employers are struggling to fill technical roles. Skills shortages are most common in fields such as computer science, engineering, and information technology. Employers are also struggling to find construction workers, plumbers, electricians, and other skilled trades.”

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On Friday last week, the business council called on Ottawa to do more to boost economic immigration to Canada.

“First and foremost, that means putting all necessary pressure on the federal government to address the significant backlog of immigration applications already in the system,” says Hyder. “According to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), the immigration backlog in Canada stood at a record level of 2.4 million people as of mid-June.”

On its wish list of things the federal government should do to meet the labour needs of employers, the business council cites:

  • improving the immigration system to increase the availability of skilled, qualified workers; 
  • enhancing Canada’s collective capacity and ability to recognize foreign credentials; 
  • eliminating barriers to labour mobility, such as interprovincial differences in professional requirements for a given job, and; 
  • increasing labour force participation among older people and other under-represented groups.

Processing Delays, Complex Rules And High Costs Frustrating Employers

The business council’s 170-strong membership, which consists of top execs and entrepreneurs, was sent a questionnaire earlier this year and roughly half, 80 companies, responded to the survey. 

Those 80 companies employ roughly 1.65 million Canadians in more than 20 industries and generated revenues of about $1.2 trillion in 2020.

Through its survey, the business council uncovered employer frustration with an immigration system marked by processing delays, complex rules and high costs. Only a quarter of those who responded to the survey noted the immigration system currently serves them well. 

“Half of the employers that took part in the survey are in favour of raising Canada’s annual admission targets, in particular for economic-class immigrants,” says Hyder. “At the same time, employers note that higher levels of immigration should be accompanied by greater investments in the domestic workforce as well as in childcare, housing, and public transportation.”

Two-thirds of the employers surveyed said they actively recruit workers through the immigration system and the rest indicated they hire immigrants already in the country.

“Employers look to the immigration system to help meet a variety of business needs, from enabling enterprise growth to increasing the diversity of their workforces,” notes the report. “Above all, immigration helps them fill positions that would otherwise stay vacant. Of the employers that make direct use of the immigration system, four out of five say they do so to address labour shortages.”

 65% Of Major Employers Hire Immigrants Every Year

65% Of Major Employers Hire Immigrants Every Year

Canadian employers can recruit and hire foreign nationals through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) and the International Mobility Program (IMP).

The Global Talent Stream (GTS), a part of the TFWP, can under normal processing situations lead to the granting of Canadian work permits and processing of visa applications within two weeks.

Employers can also bring in foreign nationals to fill available positions through the Express Entry system, which receives immigration applications online.

It powers the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSW), Federal Skilled Trades Program (FST), and Canada Experience Class Program (CEC) which all draw from the Express Entry pool of candidates. Those with the required Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) scores are then sent Invitations to Apply (ITAs) in regular draws. 

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