There is a new discussion on what the federal government can do for London and the rest of the southwestern Ontario economy. The area has no shortage of people suffering from lost manufacturing jobs in the hundreds of thousands during the previous economic downturn.
The solution lies partially, in the growth of local companies such as startups, to create economic growth and jobs at all skill-levels. Unfortunately, the demographics is another problem plaguing the southwestern Ontario.
A large and growing pool of young talent is required for a healthy flow of startups and growth companies. But demographic change is working against this. From 2001 to 2014, the population of people 40 or older increased by 47,276 while the population under 40 decreased by 2,454. While this is an issue across Canada, it is less so in larger population centres. It is important to identify how the southwestern centres of Ontario including London, Windsor and St. Catherine’s can increase their population of talented youth.
The region has a large pool of imported talent attending institutes of higher education who are allowed to temporarily stay in the country for a period of up to three years under Canada’s Post-Graduation Work Permit Program (PGWPP). Keeping this talent remains a challenge for policymakers under current government rules.
Recent changes to Canada’s immigration system make it nearly impossible for someone in the PGWPP program to be approved under the express entry point system without a government approved Labour Market Impact Assessment. Moreover, the process to obtain an LMIA is bureaucratic and in order to obtain an LMIA, one must prove there is a need for the foreign worker to fill the job.
The need for talent in southwestern Ontario and elsewhere in Canada is serious. The federal government must consider modifications to the Express Entry system and help graduates under the PGWPP remain in Canada. It is this pool of young talent that immigration policy is designed to recruit to augment Canada’s human capital and help increase our overall economic competitiveness.
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