Canadian businesses have a message ahead of the election: We need immigrant workers

By Steve Scherer and Fergal Smith OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian unemployment is at an all-time low and businesses have a message for politicians ahead of October's national election: We need immigrant workers so do not make the campaign about keeping them out. Concern about immigration is on the rise in Canada, according to a recent survey, especially among Conservative voters whose party leads Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Liberals in polls ahead of October elections

Reuters June 27, 2019 04:07:40 IST
Canadian businesses have a message ahead of the election: We need immigrant workers

Canadian businesses have a message ahead of the election We need immigrant workers

By Steve Scherer and Fergal Smith

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian unemployment is at an all-time low and businesses have a message for politicians ahead of October's national election: We need immigrant workers so do not make the campaign about keeping them out.

Concern about immigration is on the rise in Canada, according to a recent survey, especially among Conservative voters whose party leads Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Liberals in polls ahead of October elections.

Unlike the United States where immigration is viewed by some as a threat, Canadian businesses broadly support Trudeau's promise to boost the number of immigrants and refugees allowed into the country every year to about 1% of the population.

"We don't want immigration to be used as a political weapon here as it has been in the United States," said Goldy Hyder, head of the Business Council of Canada, whose members employ 1.7 million people.

"We agree with the federal government's targets and we need to meet those targets ... The facts clearly demonstrate that Canada is going to need immigrants to help grow the economy."

With unemployment at 5.4%, the lowest level since comparable data were first published in 1976, Canada needs workers. A June 25 report showed the country's farm labor shortage is costing billions and is expected to balloon in the next decade.

Canadian packaged meat producer Maple Leaf Foods Inc.'s pork-processing plant in Brandon, Manitoba, is operating at 80% capacity due to both labor and hog shortages, said Susan Yaeger, head of recruiting and hiring. The hog deficit is a function of not being able to find skilled workers to operate the company's commercial farms.

"Because of our low unemployment ... there's of course a dwindling labor pool for us to recruit from and our business is growing," she said.

Despite this, some politicians are pushing to reduce the number of immigrants and refugees coming to Canada every year.

Two-thirds of Canadians who said they voted for the Conservative Party said there were too many "visible minorities" - an academic way of saying non-white people - in the country, up from 53% in 2015, according to an April Ekos Politics survey.

Under Trudeau, Canada's population growth accelerated to 1.4% in 2018 from 0.8% in 2015, official data show. That compares with U.S. population growth of about 0.6% in the same period. (https://tmsnrt.rs/2I7z8dv)

The number of new permanent residents climbed by 12% in 2018 to 321,035, the highest yearly figure since 1913, eclipsing the government's target of 310,000.

For People's Party leader Maxime Bernier, who split from the Conservatives, that is too much. He wants to cut immigration levels, and so does the Quebec provincial government. While the promise to do so helped put Quebec's right-leaning government in power last year, Bernier is now polling nationally at about 1%.

Conservative leader Andrew Scheer, who holds a slight lead over Trudeau, so far has acknowledged that "immigration, done right, is good for the economy and good for jobs."

Companies across Canada are facing the same problem as Maple Leaf Foods. The meat-processing industry alone will need 25,000 workers over the next dozen years, according to a study by the Food Processing Skills Canada.

On Tuesday, the Conference Board of Canada, a research group, said that by 2025 all labor force growth in Canada would be driven by new immigrants.

The Chamber of Commerce in Ontario, Canada's most populous province, wants to further increase the number of workers brought into the country.

"We could do with even more (immigrants)," said Rocco Rossi, head of Ontario's Chamber. "We have enormous needs."

(Reporting by Fergal Smith and Steve Scherer, additional reporting by Kelsey Johnson)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

also read

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources
| Reuters
World

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources | Reuters

By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States

China's Xi says navy should become world class
| Reuters
World

China's Xi says navy should become world class | Reuters

BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.