Immigration not a divisive issue in Ontario, says Ford government

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Immigration not a divisive issue in Ontario, says Ford government

Ontario Minister of Labor and Employment ;Immigration states that the current immigration thresholds are the subject of a consensus.

Ontario Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development, Monte McNaughton (archives)

In 2021, Ontario welcomed 200,000 permanent immigrants, four times more than Quebec. For Ontario Minister Monte McNaughton, this is what it takes to address the labor shortage.

This is the biggest economic challenge faced by Ontario and Canada, said Minister McNaughton straight away. the number of job vacancies in Ontario. In Quebec, there are approximately 255,000 vacancies, according to Statistics Canada.

“The labor shortage is costing us billions of dollars a year in lost productivity.

—Monte McNaughton, Ontario Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development

In Ontario, the same minister deals with issues labor and immigration, unlike Quebec. This detail reveals the difference in approach between the two provinces.

I don't think it's a political issue. For us, it's an economic issue, says Monte McNaughton.

The consensus is such in Ontario around immigration that this issue has hardly been addressed as an election issue in the provincial election last spring.

Canada : 401,000

Ontario : 198,500

Quebec: 50,253

Source : Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, Ministry of Immigration, Francisation and Integration of Quebec, Government of Ontario (2022)

Reality Linguistic and demographic is quite different in Ontario, however, where almost a third of the population was born outside of Canada, compared to about 15% in Quebec.

“[Immigration] doesn't seem to be a divisive issue in Ontario and I'm very proud of that. »

— Monte McNaughton, Ontario Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development

In fact, raising immigration thresholds is often a request for the French-speaking minority in the province, who see it as a tool of choice to fight against the decline of French.

Among the 9,700 immigrants that the province chooses, people who speak French are given priority , says Minister McNaughton.

Monte McNaughton is careful not to comment on the current election campaign in the neighboring province. When asked what he thinks of the debate on immigration thresholds in Quebec, he replies that the majority of the provinces would like to receive more immigrants and gives the example of Manitoba and the Atlantic provinces.

It is not with the Quebec government that Ontario wants to talk about immigration, but rather with the federal government. The province is indeed calling for increased powers over immigration. More specifically, Ontario wants to choose a larger portion of its economic immigrants… A bit like Quebec.

I know that Quebec focuses mainly on the cultural aspect of immigration, which is important for this province, but our priority is economic, explains Minister McNaughton, who says he is talking with his federal counterpart Sean Fraser each week with a view to renegotiating their agreement.

If the Ford government presents immigration as a solution to the problem of the labor shortage, some experts emit flats.

Ontario already has a lot of immigrants, so if immigration met the [labour] needs, we would have already solved this, underlines Gilles Grenier, professor emeritus at the University of Ottawa.

The economist recalls that in addition to being workers, immigrants are also consumers who exert increased pressure on the supply of goods and services, including housing, health and education .

It is certain that immigration contributes to economic growth because there are more people […], but that does not necessarily increase growth per capita or welfare per capita, he says.

“From an economic perspective, immigration has a net effect of plus or minus zero. »

— Gilles Grenier, Professor Emeritus in the Department of Economics at the University of Ottawa

Monica Heller, Anthropologist and Professor Emeritus at the University of Toronto , believes for its part that the immigration thresholds could be revised upwards, on the condition of ensuring the professional integration of newcomers.

“It's not fair to say we're going to take a million instead of 400,000. Whose million is that?” Where will they go and how will they live?

— Monica Heller, Emeritus Professor at the University of Toronto

Often there is a disconnect between the realities of the labor market and the immigration policies, notes the expert. There is a lack of understanding as to how the right hand and the left hand can really work well together.

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