Last Updated on September 13, 2021
Immigrants who arrived in Canada within the last five years are enjoying better employment prospects since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, with their employment rate hitting 70.4 per cent last month.
That’s 6.1 percentage points higher than in the same month in 2019, before the start of the pandemic.
Many of these immigrants would likely have come to Canada under economic immigration programs, including the Atlantic Immigration Pilot, Canadian Experience, Caregiver, Skilled Trade and Skilled Worker programs, which would have greatly increased their employment prospects.
Others initially came through the Global Talent Stream (GTS) of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) under which Canadian work permits and visa applications are processed within two weeks to fill labour shortages.
Although immigration levels plummeted during the pandemic with the closure of borders due to public health restrictions, the Canadian economy is now roaring back to life and jobs in the healthcare and construction sector are abundant.
Booming Job Market Provides Opportunities For Immigrants
That’s providing new opportunities for those who want to immigrate to Canada.
“Employment rose by 90,000, up 0.5 per cent, in August, the third consecutive monthly increase,” reported Statistics Canada this week.
“Employment is within 156,000 jobs, down only 0.8 per cent, of its February 2020 level, the closest since the onset of the pandemic.”
Even more encouraging is that the new jobs are primarily full-time, not part-time. In August, Canada added 69,000 full-time jobs, up 0.4 per cent.
The sectors showing the most growth were the hotels, motels, and restaurants where there is currently a massive labour shortage in Canada.
‘Unprecedented’ Growth in Restaurant Sector Jobs
“It’s unprecedented times out there,” says Luc Erjavec, Restaurants Canada’s vice president for Atlantic Canada. “I’ve heard of restaurants changing their hours, closing earlier … The staff they have is burning out.”
Restaurants Canada’s latest survey shows that 80 per cent of restaurateurs are having trouble hiring kitchen staff and 67 per cent are having difficulty finding servers and staff to bus tables.
Construction firms are also in hiring mode with the number of jobs in this sector increasing by 20,000, or 1.4 per cent, in August alone. That’s the first time since March that sector has seen job growth.
The paucity of people to work construction was so serious in June that contractors were turning away work due to a lack of employees.
“We work our whole lives to be at this point and now we have got to say no,” Jonathan Denton, owner of Little John’s Renovations in Moncton, reportedly told Global News.
The contractor was turning away roughly 20 per cent of the business coming his way in June during a construction boom because he couldn’t find enough skilled workers.
Business leaders in the Atlantic Canadian province of New Brunswick say the answer to the labour shortages is immigration.
New Brunswick Business Groups Urge Increased Canada Immigration
In August, they sent a clear message to federal politicians on the campaign trail: boost immigration.
“Whichever party forms the government must prioritize policies and investments that enable businesses to access talent and capital they need to recover and grow,” said Alex LeBlanc, chief executive officer of the New Brunswick Business Council in a press conference.
Six business groups gathered at Malley Industries in Dieppe last month in the bilingual province to layout their three policy priorities for the next federal government after the Sept. 20 election.
The six business groups who asked the government to boost immigration include:
- Le Conseil économique du Nouveau-Brunswick;
- New Brunswick Business Council;
- Fredericton Chamber of Commerce;
- Chamber of Commerce for Greater Moncton;
- Saint John Region Chamber of Commerce, and;
- Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters.
“As businesses and residents in New Brunswick go to the polls, they will be looking to federal parties for a clear plan to drive economic recovery and post-pandemic growth,” said LeBlanc. “Today, we are laying out specific policies that will drive investment, workforce growth, and increased competitiveness in our province.”
Immigration Processes Need To Be Streamlined and Simplified: Business Leaders
Business leaders in New Brunswick want Ottawa to ensure the province will be allocated enough immigration spaces to bring in 10,000 immigrants – with 30 per cent of them being francophones – in the next two and a half years, by 2024.
They also want the federal government to simplify and speed up the overall process of immigration with an emphasis on streamlining and accelerating pathways for international students.
And to ensure the immigrants who arrive in New Brunswick stay there and settle down, the business community also wants Ottawa to put more money into settlement services and initiatives for welcoming communities.
“As we emerge from the pandemic, it is crucial that the next federal government make the right investments, put the right policies in place to ensure sustained growth for New Brunswick and the entire Atlantic region,” said John Wishart, chief executive officer of the Chamber of Commerce of Greater Moncton.