Ontario Minister of Labor Monte McNaughton wants to recruit 27,000 health care workers to work in long-term care homes and home care for the elderly.
The Ontario government wants to obtain better control over immigration in its province to attract more qualified workers from abroad and thus fill its labor shortage in certain sectors. That's why he plans to renegotiate his immigration agreement with the federal government this fall.
The provincial Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and skills, Monte McNaughton, says he is working closely with his federal counterpart, Sean Fraser, on this issue.
I let him know that the biggest economic challenge facing Ontario today is that we have 378,000 jobs to fill, he says. Immigration could be a key tool to help us solve our labor shortage.
Monte McNaughton points out that the province needs skilled trades workers in particular as well as in the field of health.
He explains that Ontario only has decision-making power over 5% of immigrants selected to settle in the province. According to him, the provincial government deserves greater power, like what Quebec already has.
“ We know that Quebec has more autonomy over its immigration system and that it uses it for cultural reasons. We think we deserve the same control for economic reasons. »
— Monte McNaughton, Provincial Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development
There may be a little jealousy about Quebec, but the situation is different, says Professor Emeritus in the Department of Economics at the University of Ottawa, Gilles Grenier.
Quebec has been choosing its own economic immigrants for several years with its own targets and its own [admission] criteria for somewhat historical, cultural and linguistic reasons.
The economist understands that Ontario wants to renegotiate its power sharing with Ottawa, but this is not a fundamental issue in his opinion.
Gilles Grenier also notes that both levels of government agree on at least one thing: Rightly or wrongly, a lot of immigrants are needed to meet labor needs.
The problem comes rather, according to him, from the administrative structure of the federal government.
The delays are very long, he maintains. It's a bit contradictory, the federal government has significantly increased its immigration thresholds in recent years, but we don't have the administrative resources for the process.
So , people often wait for years for an answer to their requests.
Gilles Grenier believes, however, that this situation would not improve with the province in charge.
“ Ontario doesn't have the administrative structure to do all that, so I don't think it would get any better. »
— Gilles Grenier, Professor Emeritus in the Department of Economics at the University of Ottawa
The Professor Emeritus adds that many economists are not agreement with the notion that immigration is the solution to this labor shortage.
Yes, immigrants are workers, but they will also demand government services. An immigrant who arrives needs health, education. So we need more doctors. There is also the issue of housing which is important, he concludes.
The head of the language and training team at the Agincourt Community Services Association (ACSA) Newcomer Center, Christine Markwell, believes that the solution is to accelerate the recognition of the skills of newcomers already on the place.
She reminded that the province has already welcomed many people, including international students and immigrants from other admission categories, and that it is already very difficult to enter the job market.
Christine Markwell takes the example of immigrants from the Philippines with nursing training.
They often have difficulty getting their credentials recognized and the Canadian Council of Nursing Regulators has very strict requirements that are thought to discriminate against many internationally educated nurses, she argues.
CASA employees sort through clothing collected at a drive for newcomers and homeless people in Scarborough.
The specialist therefore believes that the province should instead bet on better welcoming immigrants already there. That comes first and foremost in making sure it's easier for newcomers to work in their field.
“Lots of people I meet all the days […] have qualifications, extraordinary skills, which are not recognized here. »
— Christine Markwell, team leader at the Agincourt Community Services Association
Christine Markwell proposes in particular the establishment of a program or courses for about six months so that these newcomers can more quickly upgrade their skills and understand the Canadian particularities of their trade.
With information from Mathieu Simard