Part 1 of a 3-Part Series.
Immigration is not the only solution to this crisis! The headlines in newspapers and blogs across the country are speaking of Canada’s labour crisis or shortage and the detrimental effect and cost it’s having on the economy. The labour shortage that took off during the pandemic is far from over.
According to Statistics Canada, there were 915,500 unfilled positions in the fourth quarter of 2021. That is up by 63 percent compared to 2020. Many are looking towards immigration as the solution, is it? ITFC believes immigration must be a component part of a national strategy but not “the” solution as many believe it is.
In 2019, Canada welcomed more than 341,000 permanent residents. By 2036, immigrants will
represent up to 30% of Canada’s population, with the largest portion being employed in manual
labour and low-income positions. Automation is expected to transform many of the industries and
will result in further displacement in the future.
Where does the money come from to support immigrants who have lost the low-income type positions?
Professor Herbert Grubel, Professor Emeritus of Economics, Simon Fraser University penned an article in the National Post that stated the extent of the financial burden of Canada’s immigration policies rested on Canadians.
New data and studies show the extent of this fiscal burden; recent immigrants have lower average incomes and tax payments than other Canadians, even 10 years after their arrival. At the same time, these immigrants on average absorb at least the same number of social benefits as other Canadians.
As a result, $6,000 is annually transferred to the average immigrant at the expense of Canadian taxpayers. In 2006, the value of these transfers to all 2.7 million immigrants who arrived between 1987 and 2004 and still live in Canada came to $16.3 billion. Taking account of the 1.5 million immigrants who arrived since 2004, the fiscal burden comes to $25 billion in 2010. These costs represent a significant portion of the federal governments $55 billion deficit projected for the fiscal year 2011.
Benefits to one group of citizens imposes costs on another. In this case, the benefits to immigrants come at the expense of Canadian taxpayers. Unfortunately, these costs do not show up in government budgets, rather are hidden behind the provisions of the welfare state and driven by the low average incomes of recent immigrants. If, in fact, we are moving towards an automated world, what happens to the people relying on a low-income, manual jobs?
Although it is important to ensure immigrants have viable employment to succeed in their new life here, there is another group of workers waiting for an opportunity as well. They want to be included in the recruitment efforts and have their boots on, ready to fill such positions. They are right here, right now, and looking for the very same success. They are Canada’s First Peoples, First Nations, and Indigenous Peoples.
I propose the question; Why then, are we not investing heavily into the 1.4 million Indigenous Peoples and more than 600 First Nations communities in Canada? First Nations, Metis, and Inuit youth are the fastest-growing age group in Canada, but they are a demographic that is commonly excluded from the workforce. Perceived absence of training or expertise, along with bias and discrimination in hiring practices, might be some of the factors keeping Indigenous people from the workforce.
By 2026, 350,000 Indigenous youth will turn 15, the age at which they become potential members of the workforce. NOW is the time for policymakers, government, and big business in Canada to address underemployment for Indigenous Peoples. When they receive the support, they need through quality and culturally appropriate education, training, and skills, they would boost the country’s economy by $27.7 billion annually. Read that again…it would BOOST Canada’s economy by $27.7 BILLION!
What are we waiting for? What exactly is the hold-up?
As a society, as a country, we need to address these issues now and assist in making a difference in Indigenous Peoples’s lives. We can no longer just use the words inclusion and reconciliation; we need to act!
People need basic essential skills to get and keep good jobs, as are required in rapidly changing and increasingly digital workplaces. People missing these essential skills are missing their foundation. It is beyond time to change these issues. The government should recognize the potential for our Indigenous Peoples in the workforce and invest heavily in that future?
Despite the challenges presented by the underemployment of skilled Indigenous workers and by a lack of baseline essential skills, there are many bright spots on the horizon. Indigenous businesses are growing and creating employment. Self-employment and entrepreneurship are both increasing. Indigenous peoples are actively preparing for the future of work.
It’sTimeForChange believes in and strives daily towards changing the age-old attitudes, while bringing forth new dynamics, invested opportunities, and futuristic approaches that will change the lives of Indigenous Peoples wanting to join the workforce… and there are many looking for that very opportunity! We see the benefits of these new and exciting inclusive proposals for all of Canada. Our platform will connect workers with employers, and communities with business via Indigenous liaison consultants.
The future is not just about tomorrow…it is about what we do today to make tomorrow happen.