Canada must fight to retain talent after Biden enters White House, Macklem says

Good reminder that Canada’s comparative advantage in attracting skilled workers will decrease under the Biden administration:

Canadian governments must be ready to fight a potential brain drain south of the border in the face of a new U.S. administration, Bank of Canada governor Tiff Macklem said Tuesday.

Protectionist policies and attitudes stemming from U.S. President Donald Trump have helped make Canada a more attractive landing spot for global talent over the past four years.

But the advantage for international students and workers is likely to disappear as Trump exits the White House next month, Macklem said in a speech to the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade

He says being welcoming to newcomers can help boost the economy and increase exports in goods and services needed for a recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and that Canadian schools and companies may have to fight harder to attract and retain talent after Joe Biden is sworn in as president.

But Macklem warns that fighting for talent isn’t enough on its own to create a sustainable recovery, noting that governments must also invest in infrastructure and remove internal trade barriers to help exports recover.

He says federal and provincial governments have co-operated often through the pandemic, suggesting it could finally lead to an end on inter-provincial trade hurdles that stymy the movement of goods, services and professionals.

Government infrastructure spending should focus on trade-enhancing infrastructure so exporters know there is a way to easily get their products to market, he said.

Macklem notes he met last month with leaders from several logistics companies who shared their concerns about bottlenecks, particularly at ports.

The recovery so far has seen the country recoup just over 80 per cent of the three million jobs lost during spring shutdowns and output is climbing closer to pre-pandemic levels.

Macklem says much of that rebound is being fueled by household spending, but the country will need to see a rise in exports and business investment if the recovery is to be sustainable.

The path exports take will rest on global forces, Macklem says, including whether international co-operation on vaccines and distribution break through protectionist policies.

“Obviously, we all hope that real life turns out closer to the optimistic scenario than the pessimistic. But hope is not a strategy,” reads the text of Macklem’s speech.

“We need to think strategically to increase the odds of a strong trade recovery.”

The last time Canada climbed out of a recession following the 2008-2009 global financial crisis, Macklem was the second-in-command at the central bank.

Even though Canada’s recession was neither as long nor as deep as other countries, domestic exports took a sharper dive. As Macklem noted in his speech, global exports fell less than 20 per cent at the time, while Canadian exports dropped by close to 30 per cent.

The reason was a combination of weak foreign demand, particularly from our biggest trading partner in the United States, Canada’s reliance on the U.S. and other slow-growth markets instead of emerging economies largely, and a lack of competitiveness.

But while the period before that crisis was relatively positive for trade, Macklem says the same can’t be said this time around, pointing to trade disputes started by Trump.

As well, Canada’s trade in services, such as tourism, haven’t recovered as well as goods such as automobiles, even though service exports had been growing faster than goods.

What’s needed is for companies to think about what products are in demand in fast-growing markets, Macklem says. He pointed in his speech to digital services like online education and e-commerce, or applying new technology to traditional sectors.

He also says the export potential for green technology is high given global concerns about climate change.

Source: Canada must fight to retain talent after Biden enters White House, Macklem says

Will Canada’s immigration scheme for Hong Kong drain young talent from city?

Likely yes. Economic class immigration is not altruistic:

Canada’s latest immigration scheme for Hong Kong may spark an exodus of talent from the city as heightened local political tensions push educated young people to seek opportunities elsewhere, according to experts.

The forecast on Friday referred to new rules unveiled by Canada a day before to make it easier for Hong Kong’s youth to study and work there, in response to the sweeping national security law imposed by Beijing on the city.

“[The] announcement is set against the backdrop of a number of developments which have been gravely concerning to Canada,” the country’s immigration minister Marco Mendicino said on Thursday, citing the move by Beijing to disqualify four elected legislators in Hong Kong.

Under the new pathway to permanent residency for Hong Kong youth, any resident of the city who has graduated from a recognised university in the past five years can apply to work for up to three years in Canada, and will be offered a way for easier transition to permanent residency.

Canada also plans to accelerate the process for the spouses, partners and children of young Hongkongers to emigrate to the country.

Violations of Hong Kong’s national security law, or of any laws that Canada does not itself have on its books, will be disregarded when the country evaluates requests for asylum, permanent residency or other permits, according to Mendicino.

Source: Will Canada’s immigration scheme for Hong Kong drain young talent from city?

Skilled immigrants wasting their talents in Canada

Ongoing issue with degrees of complexity that take time and effort to address. Their children, of course, will not face the same disadvantage as the chart below indicates, given born and educated in Canada:

“There’s a joke in Toronto that the best place to have a heart attack is in a cab because there’ll be a doctor driving that cab,” said Margaret Eaton, executive director of the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council.

In reality, fewer than one per cent of immigrant doctors drove taxis, according to the 2011 National Household Survey. 

But almost half never get to practice medicine in Canada. 

Instead, they wind up as nurses, sonographers and care aides, among other related fields that don’t use their full skill set, even though they may have years of experience abroad.

This is a common experience for skilled immigrants.

Academic studies show that those who do find work in their field often end up working below their level of qualifications.

In Ontario, many foreign-born and educated engineers have ended up becoming IT managers, janitors and truck drivers, 2011 data shows. Top jobs for foreign-born and educated accountants outside of their field include bookkeeping, serving food and working as cashiers.


Part of the problem can be chalked up to the fact that, in recent years, immigrants have been more likely to come from countries like India, China and the Philippines, where the education system is different from the European countries, where immigrants flowed from in decades past. 

In many cases, they may also have a lower level of English skills. 

The cost of this mismatch is significant. 

In 2015, the Conference Board of Canada estimated that if Canadian employers and professional regulatory bodies did a better job of recognizing immigrants’ skills, they would earn an additional $10 billion to $12.7 billion annually and would pay more tax. 

Added to that is the huge emotional toll on these newcomers, especially when they wind up working survival jobs in cleaning, fast-food restaurants and retail, said Naghmeh Rezvani, a career practitioner at the Centre for Newcomers in Calgary.

 In January 2015, the Conservative government introduced a new system for selecting skilled immigrants called Express Entry that tries to tie permanent residency to the economy.

Those with a job offer backed by a labour market impact assessment, which proves they were selected because no Canadians were available for work, receive bonus points that help them get permanent residency more quickly.

Last year, cooks, food service supervisors and retail store supervisors were among the top 10 invited occupations because they had such jobs in hand. They made up almost one out of every five immigrants selected.

This outcome has critics concerned. They say immigrants employers hire are not necessarily the same as those who will boost Canada’s economy in the long run.

“All it is is their first job,” said David Cohen, a Montreal immigration lawyer. “A lot of candidates with excellent human capital are being squeezed out.”

The federal government is looking at doing away with the labour market assessment requirement but plans to increase the role of Express Entry in the future.

Having a job offer on arrival does have benefits. Immigrants who come without one struggle to find work because they lack Canadian experience, soft skills and social networks that would help them break into their field.

The Canadian labour market is “very parochial,” said Kelly Thomson, a  York University professor who studies foreign professionals.

“We have a tendency to compare them to Canadians and say, ‘Oh, they don’t speak as good English,’ instead of thinking, ‘Oh, they speak multiple languages. How is that an advantage for my business?’ or ‘They have a large international network.’”

Those in regulated professions face the biggest struggle. According to staff at the Centre for Newcomers in Calgary, it can take immigrants in many professions at least three years to transfer their qualifications, if they succeed at all. 

Source: Skilled immigrants wasting their talents in Canada | Calgary Herald