Population Government gathers with business community to help improve process of retaining foreign skilled workers and their families
The Telegraph Journal
September 10. 2009
A top cabinet minister responsible for growing the province's population plans to meet with his federal counterpart in Ottawa to improve immigration to New Brunswick.
Victor Boudreau, the minister responsible for the province's population growth secretariat, said Wednesday the immigration process for skilled workers and their families must be streamlined in order to attract and retain newcomers.
“There are certainly barriers to immigration that exist at the federal level despite the provincial nominee program,” he said referring to the special agreement with the Canadian government that allows the province to select immigrants to meet specific economic and labour market needs. Immigration policy is generally under federal jurisdiction.
“We need to speed up the process and also look at re-uniting families in order to improve retention,” Boudreau said during an interview after a session on the benefits of immigration organized by Enterprise Fredericton at the University of New Brunswick's Wu Conference Centre.
“Right now the retention rate of newcomers in the province is only about 60 per cent and we'd like that to increase that to 80 per cent.”
Boudreau, also minister of Business New Brunswick, has said he is working on an agreement with the federal government that would give the province greater control over francophone immigration.
Boudreau said the goal of the agreement is to ensure the province's traditional linguistic make-up (roughly one-third French, two-thirds English) is maintained.
Madhu Verma, chair of the Asian Heritage Society of New Brunswick, said more needs to be done to support newcomers once they arrive in the province.
“The government can't wash their hands of immigrants as soon as they get a job here,” she said. “There needs to be support like language training and business and social networks.”
Verma, who works with immigrants from Asia, said many newcomers arrive in the province without any family or friends.
“If the government wants to improve retention they should facilitate visitors' visas for the families and friends of immigrants,” she said.
The Fredericton Chamber of Commerce has developed a pilot project in response to these concerns called the Business Immigrant Mentorship Program, which has received $75,000 in funding from the population growth secretariat.
The mentors, experienced business leaders from across the region, will meet with immigrants interested in learning more about business for about six hours a month for a four month period.
“It's an opportunity to share business experience, develop business networks and address how immigrant investors can better identify business opportunities,” said Anthony Knight, chief executive of the chamber. “The program will help integrate newcomers into the community here by linking them with business savvy New Brunswickers.”
More than 20 Canadian business people and 15 immigrants have volunteered to participate in the program so far.
A second cohort is planned for January and will target entrepreneurs with a genuine interest in establishing business in the Fredericton area. Doug Motty, the chief executive of Enterprise Fredericton, said newcomers from different cultural backgrounds need more resources to help them integrate and overcome challenges.
“If we really want to boost New Brunswick's population and remove the barriers to business for newcomers we need to ensure the proper support is in place,” he said.
We should also concentrate on training our own and keeping them here!
len levesque, sj on 10/09/09 10:22:31 AM ADT
It amazes me how we fair minded Canadians can plan to rob poorer countries of their trained people..
Len levesque is absolutely right in that it's immoral that one of the wealthiest countries in the world will not (not cannot) train their own people.
With double digit unemployment it's not strictly a matter of bodies but a matter of productivity and working smarter. When have larger populations ever led to net improvements in the lifestyles of ordinary people? Oh, it may create a few more wealthy companies and owners or a few more votes for a particular party but do we really want the congestion, the crime, the pollution, the carbon footprint, the real clash of cultures, etc of the larger centers?
MCLAUGHLIN, Quispamsis on 10/09/09 11:46:47 AM ADT
If anyone should think all cultures are compatible, I suggest the recent Robert Fowler incident is worth noting, in this regard. (re-CBC). The French Canadian should realize that his culture has more in common with the English Canadian's (and visa versa) than any other culture on this planet and that, in reality, the English Canadian is his best friend, to this point. The English majority have freely elected French politicians to all levels of government incl the top job as PM. Why put all of this in jeopardy? Our common history has brought us both to this place in time and we've both doing quite well. Comparing our past to that of other countries or even out First nations and it is one of the better histories. If we chose to stay divided (segregated) solely and permanently on the language issue, then we are foolish. Theres more to being Canadian than a piece of paper or a particular language. We cannot undo history or change the world, so lets stay realistic.
. MCLAUGHLIN, Quispamsis on 10/09/09 11:48:48 AM ADT