Media Releases

Moving beyond Canadian experience:

December 1, 2011

Tory says it’s time to bring Canada’s diverse talent into the workplace

TORONTO, ON — A broad group of busi­ness, cor­po­rate, and com­mu­ni­ty lead­ers are join­ing forces with aca­d­e­mics to ensure that diverse tal­ents from immi­grant com­mu­ni­ties are con­tribut­ing to cor­po­rate suc­cess, and accord­ing to for­mer Ontario PC leader John Tory, the meet­ing couldn’t come at a bet­ter time.

“We need immi­grants,” says Tory.  “We need them in our work­force, we need them to sus­tain and expand not only the labour mar­ket, but our con­sumer mar­ket as well.  And they want to be here.  But there are still sig­nif­i­cant hur­dles to over­come, and we need to come togeth­er to find a solu­tion quick­ly.”

Those solu­tions are pre­cise­ly what are being sought by the Beyond “Cana­di­an Expe­ri­ence” forum, at which Tory will present the keynote address.  Aca­d­e­mics from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to will join com­mu­ni­ty and cor­po­rate lead­ers, to share knowl­edge not only about the bar­ri­ers fac­ing immi­grants as they attempt to enter the Cana­di­an work­force, but also effec­tive strate­gies used by major Cana­di­an com­pa­nies like CIBC to take advan­tage of the untapped and increas­ing­ly nec­es­sary labour resource offered by high­ly skilled immi­grants.

“The more we can do to help new­com­ers get into roles that match their abil­i­ties and income poten­tial — be it through cre­den­tial recog­ni­tion, lan­guage train­ing, facil­i­tat­ing jobs and self-employ­ment, or oth­er means — the bet­ter the results will be for our econ­o­my,” says Tory.

Tory cites com­pelling sta­tis­tics: by 2015, a full 100% of Canada’s labour growth will come from new immi­grants.  But as of March of this year, GTA unem­ploy­ment rates, at 5.4 per cent for Cana­di­an-born work­ers, stood at 9.6 per cent for immi­grants, and at 14.2 per cent for immi­grants who arrived in the past five years.  Immi­grants also earn less. From 2001 to 2006, the aver­age uni­ver­si­ty-edu­cat­ed Cana­di­an-born work­er earned $61,904, more than three times as much as their new­com­er peers ($20,143).

The pan­el dis­cus­sion is the brain­child of the Beyond “Cana­di­an Expe­ri­ence” Project, which com­bines the exper­tise of four lead­ing orga­ni­za­tions on this sub­ject, the Men­non­ite New Life Cen­tre of Toron­to, the Chi­nese Cana­di­an Nation­al Coun­cil Toron­to Chap­ter, the Toron­to Region Immi­grant Employ­ment Coun­cil (TRIEC), and the Fac­tor-Inwen­tash Fac­ul­ty of Social Work at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to.  This project, fund­ed by the Social Sci­ences and Human­i­ties Research Coun­cil of Cana­da (SSHRC), brings togeth­er find­ings from two research projects that have just been com­plet­ed, focus­ing on the hid­den bar­ri­ers keep­ing immi­grants from full par­tic­i­pa­tion in the Cana­di­an labour mar­ket.

After bring­ing their find­ings togeth­er, researchers from the project agree that employ­ers’ request for “Cana­di­an expe­ri­ence” is one of the most sig­nif­i­cant bar­ri­ers pre­vent­ing immi­grants from con­tribut­ing their tal­ents to cor­po­rate suc­cess. The com­bi­na­tion of results, which include data from inter­views and focus groups with immi­grants, ser­vice providers, and employ­ers, present some com­pelling answers to these ques­tions:

  • The mean­ing of “Cana­di­an expe­ri­ence” is not well under­stood by both immi­grants and employ­ers. Employ­ers admit that many immi­grants have the hard skills (expe­ri­ence and exper­tise) required for the job. What they also need is the soft skills that will help them fig­ure out who to know and how to be suc­cess­ful in the work­place more broad­ly.
  • Many immi­grants find it dif­fi­cult to under­stand employ­ers’ expec­ta­tions dur­ing the hir­ing process, par­tic­u­lar­ly the cri­te­ria from which they base their deci­sion. At the same time, employ­ers strug­gle to pin point exact­ly why or why not immi­grants might not be suit­able for the job.
  • Employ­ers require a bet­ter under­stand­ing of how inter­na­tion­al­ly diverse skills and expe­ri­ence in the work­place will con­tribute to cor­po­rate suc­cess. Employ­ers need clear incen­tives to facil­i­tate the diver­si­fi­ca­tion of their work force and suc­cess­ful inte­gra­tion of inter­na­tion­al tal­ents into their orga­ni­za­tions.
  • Employ­ers can use a vari­ety of work­place learn­ing approach­es, includ­ing intern­ships, men­tor­ing, and bud­dy sys­tem, to cre­ate the trust­ing envi­ron­ment need­ed for immi­grant pro­fes­sion­als to devel­op soft skills spe­cif­ic to Cana­di­an work­place cul­ture. These approach­es have proven ben­e­fi­cial for both the recent­ly hired skilled immi­grant and the employ­er, as immi­grants use the oppor­tu­ni­ty to con­tribute inno­v­a­tive ideas and prac­tices to cor­po­rate suc­cess.

To com­ple­ment the group’s find­ings, two busi­ness lead­ers and advo­cates of inte­grat­ing inter­na­tion­al tal­ents for cor­po­rate suc­cess will be speak­ing.  Anne Lam­ont, Pres­i­dent and CEO of Career Edge Orga­ni­za­tion and CIBC’s Direc­tor of Diver­si­ty Strate­gies, Matt Petersen, will share their strate­gies for not only recruit­ing, but retain­ing diverse tal­ent.

The event, which is open to the pub­lic, will also incor­po­rate the­atre and video pre­sen­ta­tions based on research results, in an attempt to make their find­ings acces­si­ble and mean­ing­ful in more per­son­al ways, open­ing the dis­cus­sion up to as broad an audi­ence as pos­si­ble.

Although a recent study found Cana­da to be the sec­ond most sought after des­ti­na­tion for glob­al immi­gra­tion (after the US), Tory warns that the com­pe­ti­tion is heat­ing up for edu­cat­ed, qual­i­fied work­ers, mak­ing forums like this one, and the results it hopes to yield, increas­ing­ly impor­tant.  “Make no mis­take, the glob­al and nation­al war for top tal­ent is heat­ing up,” he says, “and we ignore it at our per­il.”

The event takes place Fri­day, Decem­ber 2 from 8:30am until 12:30 pm at Memo­r­i­al Hall in the North York Civic Cen­tre, at 5110 Yonge St.


For more infor­ma­tion, please con­tact:

Izu­mi Sakamo­to, Ph.D.
Lan­guages: Eng­lish, Japan­ese

Adri­ana Salazar
416–699-4527 ext 229
Lan­guages: Span­ish, Eng­lish

Lin Fang, Ph.D.
Lan­guages: Eng­lish, Man­darin