Evidence of meeting #7 for Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was employers.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Jonathan Beddoes  Dean, Faculty of Engineering, University of Manitoba
  • Peter Idahosa  President, Alberta International Medical Graduates Association
  • Pam Nordstrom  Director, School of Nursing, Mount Royal University
  • Joan Atlin  Director of Programs, Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council
  • Thomas Tam  Chief Executive Officer, SUCCESS

4:55 p.m.

Chief Executive Officer, SUCCESS

Thomas Tam

In B.C. through the payment transfer, most of the employment funding comes from federal transfers to the province. But when the province develops its own employment services, it's according to their own policy and direction. For the foreign credential recognition, sometimes this does not match. So HRSDC may have to develop a program geared to the success of the foreign credential recognition process, including mentoring or internship and placement programs.

5 p.m.

Director of Programs, Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council

Joan Atlin

I would echo the same. In our experience, it's internships and mentoring, the programs that get people into the workplace. It gets people past that initial risk aversion of employers and the initial concerns of employers that people aren't going to be able to meet their needs. It gets them into the workplace, either in a paid or unpaid internship capacity or through a mentoring relationship that often gets people over the hurdle.

5 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Ed Komarnicki

Thank you.

We'll now move to the second round. Mr. Butt.

5 p.m.

Conservative

Brad Butt Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

My thanks to both of you for being here.

During the Thanksgiving week, members had time in their constituencies. I had a town hall meeting in my riding in Mississauga on foreign credentials. I had many people come in and talk about their experiences. One of the interesting things that came up, and it was probably the funniest part of the evening, was a line of mine. I said that we have the e-harmonies of the world, that it's easier to get a couple together over a website than it is to get an employer and employee matched through a website system. A foreign-credentialed individual who may need some upgrades to qualify for work in Canada and an employer who is looking for people with at least 75% or 80% of the necessary skills can have a lot of trouble hooking up.

Could you share a little more about that? It sounds like both of your organizations have done a little of that kind of thing, whether you want to call it e-harmony for employment or whatever. It sounds like you've had some success doing that. From the federal government's perspective, is there any role we can play through CIC or HRSDC to support foreign credential recognition beyond what we're already doing? It sounds like you're having a lot of success on the ground in getting this done. If we can make it more national in scope, it could help a lot more people across the country. Would you share some of your experiences on that?

5 p.m.

Chief Executive Officer, SUCCESS

Thomas Tam

First of all, I would like to express my appreciation for the pan-Canadian FCR framework. This was a very good start a couple of years ago, and we see a lot of progress in terms of the increased motivation from the sector councils, with more efforts being paid by the regulatory bodies. We are aware of those changes from other stakeholders.

In terms of HRSDC's role, we are now working with HRSDC Ottawa on a proposed loan program for a foreign credential recognition process. I think this is a unique role. The federal government can work with organizations to enhance our capacity to provide financial support to those people who want to go through all those processes, which are sometimes very costly. This is one thing.

The other thing is to develop some more long-term and very targeted programs. Again, in each of the provinces sometimes the programs are very piecemeal and sometimes it's not 100% targeting foreign credential recognition. So I would like to see HRSDC develop more long-term and systematic services or supports to us in terms of mentorship, case management, and also internship.

That's what I lay out here today.

5 p.m.

Conservative

Brad Butt Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

Ms. Atlin.

5 p.m.

Director of Programs, Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council

Joan Atlin

To the point you made, I think the employer engagement points I spoke to--the idea that we need to be investing in the same way that we invest in a suite of services for immigrants, to help them settle and help them get employed, the kinds of services that Thomas's organization delivers.... We need to support a suite of services for employers that goes from awareness with employers—I don't know if any of you remember, those of you from Ontario, but there was an advertisement campaign that TRIEC ran a couple of years ago, where you would see a skilled immigrant going into a workplace and what the reaction was—through to employer engagement programs. Most employment services have employment counsellors, and they have job developers who are going out knocking on the doors of employers. But part of what we're trying to do is create a much more coherent system, because employers get their doors knocked on by hundreds of people, and it sometimes has the opposite impact that we want. And I think there is a role for the federal government to look at an employer engagement strategy.

We've had some very successful experiences with job matching, but not through websites. People get lost on Monster.ca and all of the other hundreds of websites that are out there. But in the IT field, for instance, we did a project last year where we worked with a number of IT employers in the GTA, and AMEX was one of them. You would think that AMEX, with the capacity that they have, could find the people they need, but they can't. They have IT shortages. We were able to work with their front-line hiring managers to create screening and recruitment events very specific to their needs. We were working with all of the employment services in Toronto to bring the right candidates to them and make those matches directly.

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Ed Komarnicki

Thank you.

Thank you for that e-matching suggestion there, Mr. Butt.

We will go to Ms. Boutin-Sweet.

October 25th, 2011 / 5:05 p.m.

NDP

Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet Hochelaga, QC

I am sorry I am late, Mr. Chair. I am afraid that we were stuck in an elevator in the Promenade building for half an hour.

I would also like to share my question time with my colleague.

Although I was late, I heard you talk a little about mentoring, and it intrigued me. Could you tell me a bit more about it? Previously, I was part of a mentoring program, but it is certainly not the same kind of mentoring.

Who is responsible for the mentoring? Who is eligible for it? Are those eligible people paid, and, if so, for how long? What are the specific benefits of the mentoring for those who take part?

5:05 p.m.

Director of Programs, Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council

Joan Atlin

The mentoring program that TRIEC runs is a structured program for skilled immigrants who haven't yet had significant work experience in their field in Canada. The mentees are recruited by employment services organizations funded by Ontario's employment services program.

The unique thing about the mentoring partnership is that there were a number of small mentoring programs around Toronto that a number of different organizations were running. We brought all of those programs together so that we could go to large employers and recruit qualified mentors directly in the workplace from among their workforces.

For instance, TD, in financial services, have recruited over 800 mentors for us over the last five years--Deloitte, RBC, AMEX, CGI...-- across those services, so we've now, as I said, matched over 6,000 skilled immigrants. It's a mentoring relationship that provides 24 hours of professional mentoring over a four-month period. It's not a work experience program, and yet even with that intervention, our outcome statistics show that it's leading to a 70% success rate of people getting employed directly in their field, or related field, within six months of completing that mentoring relationship.

A large part of the need for this is that people lose their professional networks when they come to Canada. We all know that a large part of a successful job search is knowing who to talk to, having those networks, and knowing where the opportunities are. A big part of the success of those mentoring relationships is helping people to rebuild a professional network here.

5:05 p.m.

NDP

Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet Hochelaga, QC

If I understand correctly, it's mostly about networking, correct?

5:05 p.m.

Director of Programs, Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council

Joan Atlin

It's networking. It's having a professional in their field look at their résumé, coaching them through interviews, helping them know the right websites to look for in a particular field, where the right places are, which companies in their field are growing, who are the right people to talk to, and getting exposed to the Canadian workplace. Often the mentors do mentoring in their workplace, so people get a chance to be exposed to the environment.

5:05 p.m.

Chief Executive Officer, SUCCESS

Thomas Tam

We had a similar experience in B.C. Recently we also targeted some major employers. We worked with the City of Vancouver, which is a big employer. They identify staff from four different departments—the finance department, the engineering department, and two other departments—to provide mentors for new immigrants. Sometimes we focus on certain professions, and recently we have been looking for the cooperation of major employers. We also challenge the provincial and federal government departments to provide mentors for new immigrants, because both governments are huge employers. Again, we would like to have more employer participation in providing mentoring and placement opportunities.

5:10 p.m.

NDP

Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet Hochelaga, QC

Thank you.

5:10 p.m.

NDP

Claude Patry Jonquière—Alma, QC

Madam, a little earlier, you said that employers were not getting involved. Why?

Then you said that you were having more and more difficulty recruiting mentors. Why?