Wednesday, February 16, 2011


The article below from the Toronto Star makes some valid points, bu tit misses the main problem: governments should not try to force immigrants to set up in a specific province, but rather to create the economic conditions for them to come willingly. The article, in typical Toronto Star fashion, interviews a "community activist", but no business people. If he would have spoken to entrepreneurs or talented immigrants, I am sure that the reporter would have found that the market conditions in Ontario are very poor for new prospects, taxation is too high, and there are too many immigrants who have no skills or skills that do not match the employers' needs. Also, there is way too much emphasis on family class "reunification" and "refugees", and not enough on bringing know how and capital. Business immigrants are penalized with costly fees, long processing times, and are treated with suspicion by the authorities. It is no surprise that they choose Alberta, Saskatchewan and B.C. over Ontario.

Cohn: Ontario’s missing the boat on recruiting immigrants -

Cohn: Ontario’s missing the boat on recruiting immigrants
February 15, 2011

Martin Regg Cohn

Lost in this week’s news stories about record-high immigration to Canada is the story of how Ontario has been falling behind in the high stakes game of recruitment and resettlement.

You could call it, “While Ontario slept: How the rest of Canada is beating us at our own game.”

For years, Ontario rested on its laurels as a mecca for immigrants. Everyone knew that everyone wanted to beat a path to Toronto’s door.

But the Ontario hare, swelling with hubris and complacency, is being overtaken by the snapping tortoises of B.C., Alberta and Manitoba. Quebec and the West are scooping up the best and the brightest — and running their own immigration shows — while Ottawa continues to treat Queen’s Park as a junior partner.

Ontario’s bumbling became a talking point at the recent CivicAction summit, when former TD Bank economist Don Drummond went public with his withering critique. How can the province fire up its economic engine with new blood from talented immigrants, he asked, if the rest of Canada is getting the pick of the crop?

Ottawa long ago set up Provincial Nomination Programs allowing most other provinces to lure the workers their local economies need most. Meanwhile, Ontario fell further behind by relying too heavily on Ottawa to match — and ultimately mismatch — immigrants to local jobs.

Queen’s Park finally got in the game with a small pilot program in 2007, and by 2009 had attracted a mere 465 immigrants under the nominee program. Compare that to B.C., which attracted 2,225 people. Or Alberta’s 2,165 and Manitoba’s 3,730.

The virtue of the nomination programs is that workers are typically pre-screened for employment or have firm offers. That reduces the tragedy of wasted talent that can transform a healthy new arrival into an unemployed and depressed immigrant, Toronto community worker Jehad Aliweiwi told me.

Despite his bias toward a strong central government, Drummond’s experience as an economist tells him that provinces have a better feel for local labour markets, which often deviate from national trends. “It pains me to say that,” Drummond adds, but Queen’s Park should have seized control five years ago. “It was clear by then the federal government didn’t really know what it was doing on the selection process.”

Eric Hoskins, who took over Ontario’s immigration ministry a year ago, acknowledges the province’s federalist instincts prompted it to sit back while other provinces seized the initiative.

“Ontario never really saw that need,” he explained. “We didn’t see the utility of the PNP (nominations program) as others did, but as it grew in size, it more and more impacted on our ability to attract FSWs (skilled workers).”

Convinced that Ottawa has misdiagnosed the province’s labour market needs, Hoskins is negotiating for greater control. Belatedly, the province has also ramped up its nominees program, and is asking Ottawa to live up to its funding commitments.

Most of Canada’s population growth has come from immigrants, and most of it traditionally came to Ontario. But a recession, and a reconfiguration of the labour market, have changed the equation.

Quebec and the West are not only getting the best and the brightest, but the most badly needed — while Ontario is still getting too many of the unneeded, and jobs for skilled workers go unfilled.

That doesn’t add up. Unfulfilled immigrants, and society as a whole, are paying the price for that disconnect.

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