Advocacy

May 8, 2024

It’s time for Canada to deliver the promise of immigration

Ottawa, Ontario—Canada has benefitted tremendously from immigration. At its core, the promise of immigration is that people can come here from around the world, contribute to our economy and society, build a great life for themselves, and that collectively we will all be better off. However, a new report from the Business Council of Alberta warns that we have not been delivering on this promise recently.

“Immigration has been good for Canada. For decades, Canada’s immigration system was lauded as one of the best. It has brought in highly skilled people who helped build the country and grow the Canadian economy,” says Adam Legge, President of the Business Council of Alberta. “However, surging immigration numbers and housing shortages coupled with a weak economy have magnified some of the cracks in the system and we’re starting to see poorer outcomes for everyone. We need to do better—for newcomers and for our future prosperity.”

This report, entitled Delivering the Promise: A Framework and Action Plan for a Prosperity-Driven Immigration System for Canada is a clear vision and plan for an improved immigration system that can generate better economic growth and settlement outcomes. It suggests a framework and a series of recommendations to develop an immigration strategy that builds a strong economy, improves living standards, and leaves newcomers, businesses, and all Canadians with more opportunity. The report’s recommendations centre on three key themes:

  • Attract: Making Canada the top destination for prospective economic immigrants
  • Select: Selecting immigrants with the highest economic potential
  • Support: Helping newcomers successfully integrate into life in Canada

This framework and recommendations were shaped and guided by an Executive Task Force of Council members and informed by newcomer-serving agencies, policymakers, economists, academics, and newcomers themselves.

“Canada needs to stand up and be the leader. However, we will only have the power to influence the world if we are successful and can offer economic prosperity and growth,” says Irfhan Rawji, Task Force Member & Founder & Executive Chair of MobSquad. “That’s why this work and these recommendations are so important. They offer us an opportunity to refocus our economic immigration strategy, specifically on its purpose: to ensure that everyone is better off.”

The report recommends that the federal government start with three focus policy areas:

  • Reform the Comprehensive Ranking System: To ensure that immigration delivers greater prosperity for all, those selected for economic immigration must possess the skills and experience most highly valued by the Canadian economy.

    Key Recommendation: Determine how to award points for current employment earnings which is the most predictive, known factor of economic potential.
  • Target recruitment for specific skills: Canada can improve its access to skilled workers, and enhance its ability to support per capita economic growth, through tactics such as targeted marketing and recruitment efforts in local markets.

    Key Recommendation: Create a 5-Year Opportunity in Canada Recruitment Strategy, using targeted recruitment strategies to build Canada’s competitive edge in attracting the highest potential economic immigrants.
  • Focus on measurable outcomes: One piece missing from the federal government’s current approach to economic immigration is clear performance indicators that are directly tied to per capita economic growth and prosperity.

    Key Recommendation: Identify specific, prosperity-based measures against which to measure the success of economic immigration. These measures should reflect the economic outcomes of principal applicants and be directly connected with per capita GDP growth.  

Currently, only 28% of Canadians believe that Canada’s immigration strategy is effective and 70% want to see changes made. Among those calling on Canada to do better are immigrants themselves. Many are finding that life in Canada is falling short of its promise due to a high cost of living, limited work opportunities, and other barriers such as a failure to recognize foreign credentials.

“We need to better support newcomers to truly deliver on the promise of better opportunity. The current immigration point system promotes an expectation among newcomers that they are able to work in their chosen fields, but this is often not the case,” says Nawal Al-Busaidi, CEO of Immigrant Services Calgary. “Whether it’s an issue of accreditation, recertification, or lack of Canadian work experience, newcomer skills, education, and expertise are not being recognized or utilized to address Canada’s immediate and long-term needs, including the shortage in the labour market. The implications for Canada are considerable because a newcomer’s inability to fully participate and contribute to Canada’s prosperity is wide reaching and long term.”

Canada’s immigration strategy should work for everyone. Future prosperity requires that the Canadian economy generates more value, not just because there are more of us, but because each one of us is better off. This report provides a starting place to attract, select, and support immigrants and ultimately improve prosperity for everyone.

A copy of the full report is attached to this release.

Task Force Members

  • Amir Shami, President & CEO, Rotaflow Group of Companies
  • Andy Trewick, President & CEO, Graham Construction
  • Irfhan Rawji, Founder & Executive Chair, MobSquad
  • James Ha, President, Boardwalk REIT
  • Marco DiFranco, General Manager of Human Resources, Rocky Mountain Equipment
  • Navin Arora, Executive Vice President, TELUS and President, TELUS Business Solutions
  • Rachel Moore, Executive Vice President, Corporate Services, Ovintiv

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About the Business Council of Alberta. The Business Council of Alberta is a non-partisan, for-purpose organization dedicated to building a better Alberta within a more dynamic Canada. Composed of the chief executives and leading entrepreneurs of the province’s largest enterprises, Council members are proud to represent the majority of Alberta’s private sector investment, job creation, exports, and research and development. The Council is committed to working with leaders and stakeholders across Alberta and Canada in proposing bold and innovative public policy solutions and initiatives that will make life better for Albertans.

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