Canada must act fast to improve its immigration system. This is needed to attract and retain the best foreign skilled workers. Failure to do so will allow its rivals to obtain an upper hand in the global talent pool. Australia is already well on its way.
That is the lesson that should be taken from comments by Shell Australia chairman Andrew Smith, who wants to see increased immigration Down Under to kick start the economy and foster population growth.
Smith`s comments strike a familiar note to what so many business leaders in Canada are saying – that the process for bringing in top talent, particularly in the technology field, needs to be made significantly quicker and easier.
Canada`s federal government has made all the right noises in saying it will act in the fall on a comprehensive overhaul of the immigration system.
Officials should consider Smith`s comments as a warning that if they do not act, someone else will.
“There has been a failure of industry to advocate for an immigration program that will provide economic stimulus to a sluggish economy,” Smith said.
“Industry leaders need to both advocate for a balanced mix of skilled and humanitarian migration, then back up our advocacy with meaningful decisions that contribute to legacy.
“It is only through population growth that economic diversity will be delivered, unlocking the potential of Australia’s north.”
Australia`s problem is that immigrants tend to gravitate towards the big cities including Sydney and Melbourne, leaving the north of the country short of skilled labour.
This should sound familiar to Canadians, where Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal dominate the intake of new residents, leaving areas such as Atlantic Canada and the more rural areas of B.C., Ontario and Quebec struggling with aging populations.
Smith points out that Melbourne and Sydney are home to more than half of the population growth in the whole of Australia.
He wants to see policies that will increase immigration and population outside of those areas.
Canada has already taken action on this with the Atlantic Growth Strategy, part of which will see 2,000 new Provincial Nominee Program immigrants welcomed in 2017, and potentially more in the two subsequent years.
Australia has faced its fair share of the anti-immigration rhetoric that currently seems to be sweeping around the world.
This is where Canada could have an edge, as it recently elected a government with a pro-immigration manifesto.
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