Minister McNaughton asks feds to increase Ontario’s allotment of skilled immigrant workers

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Ontario Construction News staff writer

Ontario needs more skilled workers for the construction industry and other sectors, and one way of getting them is to allow more skilled immigrants onto the province’s building sites and other places of employment, says Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development.

On Wednesday, the minister called on the federal government to allow Ontario to nominate more immigrants who can bring the skills and experience needed to grow the economy and create jobs.

“The Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program is a key step in addressing the province’s skilled labour shortage by helping bring workers with the skills and experience required to solve our economic challenges. This program helps grow our booming technology sector, staff the skilled construction trades, and meet regional needs,” he said.

To ensure a prosperous future for Ontario, McNaughton said the province requires immigrants with the skills and experience the economy needs. He continued that Ontario is only allowed to select a disproportionately small allocation of economic immigrants compared to other provinces. Ontario’s allotment is around 15 per cent, while no other province is below 40 per cent.

“We have asked the federal government to significantly increase our allocation so we can nominate people who have the job skills and education employers need. We are asking our federal counterparts to, over the next two years, 2020-2022, double the current annual allocations through the program to 13,300.”

A request last year for an increased number of skilled immigrants only yielded an additional 50 positions, the minister said.

“This simply does not meet the needs of Ontario’s economy, and does not support economic growth and job creation. Last week, Ontario started accepting applications for international students with job offers in our province. Within hours, not even days, the maximum number of applications allowed by the federal government had been reached. We need greater control to help ensure our specific economic needs are met. We need it to create jobs and prosperity for everyone as we build our province together.”

A recent report highlights the shortage of skilled workers in Ontario, and the problems it is causing the construction industry.

The demand is being driven by high levels of investment in public- and private sector investment, as well as residential construction. To keep pace with the activity, the industry will need to hire, train, and retain nearly 100,000 additional skilled workers, according to BuiltForce Canada’s BuildForce Canada’s 2020–2029 Construction and Maintenance Looking Forward report.

“The province is expected to experience low construction unemployment, high labour demand and high numbers of anticipated retirements across the scenario period,” says Bill Ferreira, Executive Director of BuildForce Canada. “The industry will need to remain focused on recruitment and training to meet demands for expansion and worker replacement over the coming decade.”

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