Canadian cities should do more in terms of both attracting and utilizing skilled and entrepreneurial immigrants, say some experts.
A 2009 report conducted by Ryerson University found that in Toronto visible minorities hold 14 percent of leadership positions despite making up 49.5 percent of the population in the area. This has many analysts concerned, such as Ratna Omidvar, president of Maytree Foundation – a non-profit organization devoted to the reduction of poverty and inequality.
Omidvar says that Canadian cities are falling behind other major global metropolises in terms of encouraging, recognizing and utilizing foreign skills.
“It’s actually quite mind-boggling how much more creative they are than we are,” says Omidvar, referring to the online resources provided to immigrants in Barcelona and Vienna looking to start their own businesses. “We have not grabbed the opportunity that would-be immigrant entrepreneurs present to us.”
Experts point to major cities in the U.S. which have managed to successfully integrate immigrant skills into their economies. New York, Miami and San Francisco all have exemplary integration services and communities, and a recent study by Duke University found that between 1995 and 2005, “25.3 per cent of U.S. engineering and technology start-ups had at least one foreign-born founder.”
The Maytree foundation website lists several initiatives taken by cities globally to effectively integrate entrepreneurial immigrants. For example in Hamburg, Germany, immigrants are being targeted in civil service recruitment campaigns and have subsequently increased their public employment by 10 percent since 2006.
In Canada more efforts could be made to build community relations and improve public transport. Unique identities also help a city to attract more newcomers. Experts say that cities need to remember that they cannot attract everyone, but instead can and should focus on fostering stronger ties to a specific community.
Source: Globe and Mail