How Businesses Can Help New Immigrants Boost Canada’s Economy After COVID-19
January 15, 2021
A senior figure at one of Canada’s top banks has urged governments and businesses to assist the seamless integration of newcomers, describing immigration as ‘a form of economic stimulus’.
Dan Rees, group head of Canadian banking at Scotiabank, believes immigration can be a way out of the economic woe caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Writing in the Globe and Mail, Rees states: “The more educated and productive people we attract, the more our quality of life improves and we can maintain the things that make Canada strong. Immigration is a form of economic stimulus.
“At a time when governments are doing their utmost to support the economy, we should use every engine of growth we can to carry us through the pandemic.”
Rees highlights how Canada’s population growth would likely have stalled or be in decline if it was not for immigration, like many of Canada’s fellow Group of Seven Countries.
He lauds Canada’s immigration policies, including the points-based Express Entry system, for creating a foreign-born population that is 60 percent highly educated, compared to 40 percent in the United States.
Through Express Entry Canada is able to match newcomers to in-demand occupations and ensure they are young, educated and have knowledge of official languages.
“Because of our immigration policies, Canada now welcomes five times as many skilled newcomers as a percentage of its population than the U.S. does,” Rees writes.
“Over the past two years, pre-COVID-19, new Canadians saw significantly higher employment gains than Canadian-born people.”
Canada’s federal government is doing its part by planning to welcome more than 400,000 newcomers per year in 2021, 2022 and 2023, the majority of which will be economic immigrants. When that program can fully kick into gear is governed by how quickly COVID-19 can be brought under control, and travel restrictions eased.
With such high numbers of newcomers planned, Rees wants the business community to step up to help those immigrants when they arrive.
He calls for action from business in four main areas: Financial literacy, recruitment, professional integration and social and professional networks. These are the main ways Canada can help new permanent residents contribute to growing the economy as quickly as possible.
Rees concludes: “The pandemic will eventually pass, but the need to strengthen Canada – economically, demographically and culturally – will not go away. Let’s make sure immigration continues to be the Canadian advantage.”