Atlantic Canada needs to offer a better deal to immigrants if we want immigrants to make a larger contribution here.
In AIMS’ latest paper, Give a Plum for a Peach: Chinese Business Immigration to Atlantic Canada, author John Huang takes a specific look at what needs to be done to encourage business immigration from China. He says the region needs to let more people in, let them in faster, and let them do more things when they get here. The region also needs to do a better job of promoting itself to immigrants from all walks of life and in as many regions as possible.
Marketing material, websites and immigration advice should be available in multiple languages and multiple jurisdictions. People are moving to Canada from China, but they are generally only aware of the major Canadian centres as they make their decision to move. With immigration, building a critical mass is a key success factor and Atlantic Canada has a long way to go on that front.
AIMS acting President Charles Cirtwill says the paper shows changes to immigration policy are crucial to make the region more attractive to much-needed new residents.
“The 2006 Census heightened public awareness of something that AIMS has been analyzing for some time. Our population is shrinking, rapidly leaving us with a labour shortage that is only getting worse the more it is ignored. Immigration is not the only solution to this problem, but it is a big part of the solution. This paper shows how immigration can help in terms of providing a pool of skilled workers as well as the added benefits of enhanced economic development and job creation.”
The paper explains that Atlantic Canada needs to promote itself more if it wants to attract immigrants. It also needs to adopt more flexible immigration policies and be more welcoming to new immigrants. Students, for example, should not only be encouraged to come here to study, but to come here to live, work, build a family and a future.
“The solutions are there but we need to act,” says Cirtwill. “Atlantic Canada has to make it easier and more attractive for people to choose the region as a destination.”
More needs to be done to ensure that comparable foreign credentials, in fields such as engineering and medical technology, are recognized by employers and professional associations. Expedited immigration processes, however, should not be limited to a set of skilled workers with “skilled” and “preferred skills” being defined by bureaucrats. Priority should be given to immigrants that have bone fide job offers or who match a stated need from Canadian employers and communities.
Huang writes that increased immigration brings tangible benefits, “In 2004, business immigrant entrepreneurs, invested $87.8 million in Canada and created 886 full-time and 646 part-time jobs.”
The paper points out that immigration programmes must be expanded. Quotas, especially quotas on immigrant investors, limit the potential of immigration at a time when we need to be maximizing that potential. Long waiting lists and cumbersome processes also act as a deterrent as immigrants tired of waiting to come to Atlantic Canada take their skills and their resources elsewhere.
Quickly integrating immigrants into our communities is another key factor in making sure they stay here, and encourage others to join them. For Chinese business immigrants there could be workplace internships and mentoring, business and professional networking opportunities, more English language programs and sector-based professional English training, and training programs to help new immigrants meet Canadian standards. Huang writes that such initiatives would enhance Atlantic Canada’s reputation in immigrants’ hometowns in China potentially attracting more new immigrants.
“This paper specifically addresses Chinese business immigration to Atlantic Canada,” says Cirtwill, “but its findings are applicable to pretty well anyone who wants to immigrate here from anywhere.”
To read the complete paper, click here