Doug Ford wants to combat labour shortages with more immigrants

More on Ontario pressure to increase Provincial Nominee Program levels:

Premier Doug Ford plans to press the federal government for immigration rules similar to Quebec’s so Ontario can address labour shortages across the province. 

And in British Columbia, at the summer meeting of the Council of the Federation, he is seeking support from his 12 provincial and territorial leaders to join the call for more choice and flexibility from the federal government — as well as faster processing of workers, which can now take more than two years.

“In the face of a historic labour shortage, we need more skilled workers to help fill the gap here in Ontario and across the country,” Ford said in a statement to the Star. 

“I know the other premiers agree that provinces can’t do this alone. We need the federal government to work with us to tackle the labour shortfall to help ensure our economy remains strong during these challenging times.”

The province and federal government’s agreement on immigration is up for renewal this fall, and Ford is hoping to negotiate a big boost in the number of workers Ontario takes in, as well as more say in the types of job skills they possess. 

Ontario had been hoping to be allocated 18,000 workers via immigration — double the 9,000 initially granted — but received 9,700. 

The province says it has 378,000 job that are unfilled, mainly in health care and construction. 

It also wants the wait time for processing workers given it currently takes about 26 months, with “express” taking 18 months. 

Following the June 2 election, Ontario Labour Minister Monte McNaughton — who saw immigration added to his portfolio when he was reappointed to cabinet — said the “Ontario immigrant nominee program” only gives the province say over 9,000 newcomers when 125,000 arrive here every year, “which is a very small percentage of what we are getting.”

He said he planned to reach out to the federal government “in short order to lay the groundwork” to renegotiate the Ontario-Canada immigrant agreement. 

“Quite frankly. I’d like to see a Quebec-style immigration system here in Ontario where we have more of a say in the immigrants that we select to fill these jobs and build stronger communities,” McNaughton said, adding Quebec selects about 90 per cent of economic immigrants and “I think Ontario deserves to have a system similar to them.”

Aspiring federal Conservative leader and former Quebec premier Jean Charest said on social media that he’s “on board” with Ontario seeking a bigger say in economic immigration.

“To bring back the Canadian dream of having an affordable home, and improving access to health care, we need more skilled workers,” he tweeted. “I will give provinces like Ontario the ability to bring in more folks to solve their labour shortage.”

Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said a revamp of immigration rules could help ease the nursing shortage, saying that “status in Canada is the only barrier to becoming certified” for thousands across the country. 

Not being a permanent resident “precludes them from being qualified to work … speeding up that process alone” could work. 

He said the federal government has responsibility for immigration and should continue that, but added “it’s always important to heed concerns being raised by provinces because they know what in particular is needed.”

Source: Doug Ford wants to combat labour shortages with more immigrants

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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