Calls for more newcomers to help ease labour shortage

St. Catherine Standard

Richard Hutton St. Catherine Standard Fri., Jan. 20, 2023

Adrion Brion came to Canada from the Philippines along with his wife and son. Since landing in Canada last August, he has found a job in information technology with the Algoma Central shipping company,

Adrian Brion had been wanting to come to Canada from his native Philippines since before the COVID-19 pandemic.

With travel curtailed and government business slowed to a crawl, he had to wait. But on Aug. 3, Brion and his wife, Dianne, along with their son made the move to Canada. Adrian was an information technology professional working for a cruise line while Dianne was a nurse. Just a few weeks later, he worked with Employment Solutions to help with his job search.

“I was working in IT ... supporting different ship with Royal Caribbean Cruises,” Brion, 31, said. “I have shipboard experience for seven years.”

According to Statistics Canada (StatsCan), only 33.6 per cent of job vacancies were filled across all sectors in the first quarter of 2022. It’s something that has been trending downward since 2016, according to StatsCan.

Brion has already found a job in IT, with a shipping company to boot, but he has traded passengers for cargo with a job with Algoma Central.

“I was working with guests, but now I'm working with tankers,” he said with a smile.

He is currently in Canada on a work visa while Dianne works on gaining her accreditation to work here as a nurse. In Dianne’s case, she is coming into a field (health care) that saw only 23.3 per cent of posted vacancies being filed in the first quarter of 2022, according to the StatsCan analysis.

Brion started sending out resumés even before coming to Canada. Upon arrival, he got some help from Employment Solutions making improvements to his CV.

In the end, recruiters from Algoma Central found him via LinkedIn.

The influx of newcomers has had an impact on the Welland Heritage Council and Multicultural Centre (WHCMC), said Lori Webster, co-ordinator, Niagara Foreign Credential Recognition Program.

“We're extremely busy,” she said. “We've been able to add to our staff team. We needed increased resources to meet the demand.”

Brion is one of more than 300 people who have been helped in their employment search through Employment Solutions.

WHCMC executive director Janet Madume said those numbers are in addition to the centre’s settlement work, which between April 1 and Dec. 31 saw 480 refugee claimants come through the centre’s doors looking for help settling into their new home.

“Normally, we have 550 for a year,” Madume said.

As for increasing immigration numbers to help ease the labour shortage, she’s all for it.

“It’s a good thing,” she said. “Canada really needs it.”

That’s in part, because of Canada’s aging population, including baby boomers now entering retirement.

“We need people to fill these jobs,” she said.

And it’s the skilled professions, such as the kind of work Brion does where the shortage is most keen. But Canada needs to do better making newcomers aware of what they need to be able to work here. That would help Webster out in her role helping newcomers earn the accreditation needed for careers in fields such as health care.

“We need to not over promise people,” she said.

Meanwhile, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Sean Fraser said Canada will continue to welcome more newcomers, and in greater numbers.

“It is a testament to the strength and resilience of our country and its people,” he said in a release announcing the record numbers for 2022. “Newcomers play an essential role in filling labour shortages, bringing new perspectives and talents to our communities, and enriching our society as a whole.”