Raising the employment rate of immigrants to match the Canadian-born, there would be about 370,000 extra people at work, helping employers fill skill shortages.
By Heather Scoffield, The Canadian Press (published in Toronto Star)
Ottawa — The federal government could put the equivalent of 370,000 more people to work if it tweaked the immigration system to focus on the long-term needs of the job market, says a new report by Toronto-Dominion Bank.
Unemployment and underemployment among immigrants is worse than ever, the report says, but Ottawa could easily fix the problem.
“We would gain a major competitive advantage if this country were recognized around the world as one where all migrants are successful in being able to practise their own trade and raise their standard of living,” said chief economist Craig Alexander.
“As of yet, no major country has been able to stake this claim.”
Immigrants who arrived in Canada in the 1970s used to be able to catch up to the salaries of their Canadian counterparts within a generation.
But the disparity has grown steadily and now the average immigrant doesn’t have much hope of seeing the gap close until the second generation.
“The simple, but sad, truth is that many new immigrants cannot hope to close the earnings gap in their lifetime,” the TD paper says.
Closing that gap is crucial as Canada faces the mass retirement of the baby-boom generation, the paper explains.
If immigrants were employed at the same level as established Canadians, there would be about 370,000 extra people at work, the TD economists estimate.
“Canada admits hundreds of thousands of highly educated, highly skilled immigrants each year to meet labour demand or to fill skills gaps,” Alexander said.
“And yet, any reason for participating in skilled immigration is rendered null and void if those immigrants ultimately take lower-paying jobs unrelated to their training because of the labour market barriers that they face.”