Newcomers face too many barriers in Sudbury: Report
To meet a future demand for skilled workers, Greater Sudbury must eliminate obstacles for newcomers, a recent study indicates.
The report, titled Building a Home: Strengthening the Pathways for Newcomer Economic Integration, analyzes a variety of impediments faced by immigrants and recommends strategies to better welcome them as workers and entrepreneurs.
“Alongside the economic integration barriers for newcomers — for example, a lack of knowledge regarding Ontario’s legislation for starting a business, language barriers and not enough diversity training — barriers for employers and service providers were identified that can impact their ability to effectively address these obstacles for newcomers,” the report states.
These include lack of quality data, communication issues, and a lack of attraction efforts.
Other barriers include the “lack of a permanent immigration and passport office for newcomers, discriminatory behaviours (and) issues regarding recognition of credentials.”
The Northern Policy Institute analysis, undertaken in conjunction with the Greater Sudbury Local Immigration Partnership, says newcomers are key to the future of the community, given demographic trends.
“Although the district has experienced a steady population increase since 2001, this growth has been slow due to factors such as low rates of immigration, out-migration, an aging population, and the low fertility rates of the generations following the Second World War,” notes the report, written by NPI research coordinator Rachel Rizzuto.
“The aging population is a concern for Greater Sudbury because it means the demographic dependency ratio – the ratio of working-age individuals to dependents – will become unsustainable.”
Given this pattern, it is important to ask “what assets and resources can we enhance in order to effectively attract and retain newcomers?” the policy institute says. “Specifically, how can the city encourage long-term economic integration of newcomers?”
Rizzuto says there are several actions the City of Greater Sudbury could take to tackle the demographic trends.
“First, it could encourage the economic integration of the domestic population, such as Indigenous peoples and other economic groups,” she suggests in a release. “It could also attract and retain anglophone, francophone, and other newcomer groups (i.e., immigrants and secondary migrants).”
Other recommendations include:
– Construct an asset map: This is essentially an inventory of a given community or organization’s strengths and weaknesses;
– Engage employers appropriately: Educating employers about what is available and how the newcomer process operates should be conducted in a manner that accommodates their work schedules;
– Better use of data: To appropriately measure success and identify opportunities in filling needs and improving efficiency, collecting and analyzing newcomer data is crucial;
– When planning, plan for families, too: Some newcomers may bring their families with them. It was noted that spouses must be taken into consideration, otherwise a family may not be inclined to stay in the community;
– Improve the pathway for entrepreneurs: One way to do this would be to create a platform that enables businesses to anonymously post that they are for sale, which could decrease employer hesitation regarding business succession as it can mitigate the chance that competitors find out;
– Re-establish an immigration/passport office: Greater Sudbury used to have a Citizenship and Immigration Canada office (now referred to as IRCC), but it was closed in 2012.
“Given that the City of Greater Sudbury was chosen as the pilot site for two federal programs focused on increasing immigration to Canada’s communities, it is crucial that the city analyze its assets, strengths and weaknesses so that newcomers are welcomed with the right supports,” the report argues. “These programs can certainly complement the city’s efforts to reach their Everest goal of 10,000 net new jobs.”
Enhancing newcomer attraction and retention “will not only ensure newcomers are appropriately integrated into the labour market, but also increase the likelihood they choose to stay and help the City of Greater Sudbury continue to grow,” the report concludes.