Evidence of meeting #135 for Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was workers.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Gordie Hogg  South Surrey—White Rock, Lib.
Elisha Ram  Associate Assistant Deputy Minister, Skills and Employment Branch, Department of Employment and Social Development
Natasha Kim  Associate Assistant Deputy Minister, Strategic and Program Policy, Department of Citizenship and Immigration
Stephen Johnson  Director General, Labour Market Information Directorate, Department of Employment and Social Development

12:50 p.m.

Liberal

Bobby Morrissey Liberal Egmont, PE

I know that, but I'm looking to—

12:50 p.m.

Associate Assistant Deputy Minister, Strategic and Program Policy, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Natasha Kim

Nationally, demographically that's a challenge we're facing, and that's why immigration definitely will play a role going forward as a—

12:50 p.m.

Liberal

Bobby Morrissey Liberal Egmont, PE

What do we have to change in the stream that's not working?

12:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Bryan May

Sorry, Bobby, I have to cut you off there. We have to be fair with time. Maybe Dan will give you some time, maybe not.

12:50 p.m.

Voices

Oh, oh!

12:50 p.m.

Liberal

Dan Ruimy Liberal Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge, BC

Go ahead and finish your question.

12:50 p.m.

Liberal

Bobby Morrissey Liberal Egmont, PE

Is there something you could recommend to the committee that we should be looking at changing within the immigration field?

12:50 p.m.

Associate Assistant Deputy Minister, Strategic and Program Policy, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Natasha Kim

We'll be interested to see the committee's recommendation in terms of broader outlooks. For example, we don't see that there is a projected shortage nationally when it comes to construction. We certainly are constantly looking at our programs to see how we can better adapt or respond to labour market requirements in Canada.

For example, the minister recently announced a rural and northern pilot that we'll be launching for rural and northern Canada, where we'll be looking to partner with communities to try to spread the benefits of immigration to those areas. Like the Atlantic region, it's about trying to use immigration as a tool where there have been challenges in attracting and retaining immigrants to build the workforces. There are different ways we are looking at to be responsive to the labour market needs in Canada, but of course they're varied based on where you live and what industry you're in. It's something that we're constantly trying to improve.

12:50 p.m.

Liberal

Dan Ruimy Liberal Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge, BC

I'm going to share my time with PS Cuzner, but before I do, I want to make another comment. I believe the pathway to citizenship is critically important, but on the other side, we have a lot of youth out there who are struggling and need the opportunities, at-risk youth, and this is perfect to get them into this line of work. I think we have to continuously look at how our employment programs are best suited to do that. Those are questions that will continue popping up.

It's over to you, Rodger.

12:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Bryan May

You have four minutes. I'll have to stop you right at four, I'm afraid.

12:55 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Liberal Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Okay.

Thanks, all, for being here today.

Obviously, to my colleagues around the table here, this is a very complex issue and one-size-fits-all does not accommodate. We know that. Taking the sentiment from my friend Mr. Barlow, many who come here do want to become Canadian citizens, but there are temporary foreign workers. Leonardo DiCaprio—and I know you're a big Leonardo fan—

12:55 p.m.

Conservative

John Barlow Conservative Foothills, AB

How dare you bring that up?

12:55 p.m.

Voices

Oh, oh!

12:55 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Liberal Cape Breton—Canso, NS

When he comes here to work on a movie, he's a temporary foreign worker. There are different needs. Different parts of the country have different needs, and different sectors have different needs.

As Mr. Ram indicated—and it's been indicated before in some of the testimony—for many of those jobs, they've used the temporary foreign worker program in the absence of a real program that suits their needs.

You made reference to the rural pilot project. We know that agri-food needs a pilot project. You can go to Neepawa or Brandon and to any of those meat plants—those aren't temporary jobs. They are looking for permanent residents to come there. When you get somebody working in a position that is unionized, they have health and safety benefits, and you know that they're working under a collective agreement so they have guaranteed wages. Also, the union works with management to help with their English skills. Those are all beneficial. They want to become Canadians. If there's a best practice, those companies have experienced the best practice.

Specific to the GTA and the study we're undergoing here today, are there caps on the numbers of skilled trades that we can recognize, that we can process? Nationally, are there caps on the express entry?

12:55 p.m.

Associate Assistant Deputy Minister, Strategic and Program Policy, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Natasha Kim

I wouldn't call them caps. As mentioned, the levels plan is the government's plan for permanent resident admissions every year. It breaks that down by category, including what comes under our federal high-skills program. I believe it's about 80,000 this year, so they're not small numbers. The provincial nominee program is one where there is often a more direct linkage to specific regional labour market needs that can be responded to, and that program has been growing faster than any other program that we've seen in our levels plan. This year, it's going to be 61,000.

12:55 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Liberal Cape Breton—Canso, NS

That's 61,000?

12:55 p.m.

Associate Assistant Deputy Minister, Strategic and Program Policy, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Natasha Kim

That's right. That includes family members as well. There are no caps per se, but there are planned admissions for permanent immigration.

12:55 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Liberal Cape Breton—Canso, NS

I'm just wondering what the difference might be between planned limits and caps, but....

The lack of mobility was also brought up. Mr. Duvall talked about mobility provisions. Are you comfortable commenting on some incentives to make sure Canadians get first crack at the jobs? We want to make sure we don't suppress Canadian wages. We want to make sure that the people who come in are looked after as far as health and safety goes.

Do you see a benefit in looking at mobility? When you see 1,000 electricians out of work in Alberta, can you see some benefit in looking at provisions not for relocation but just for travel, for those intermittent times of three, six or eight weeks' work? Can you see something with some benefit for those opportunities, mobility as well as accommodation?

12:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Bryan May

Please make it a very brief answer.

12:55 p.m.

Associate Assistant Deputy Minister, Skills and Employment Branch, Department of Employment and Social Development

Elisha Ram

As I said, I think that's an interesting area of inquiry. It comes up in a number of different conversations. The government certainly has an interest in making sure that Canadians, wherever they are, have access to good jobs. It doesn't serve anybody's interest, as you pointed out, to have unemployed people in one part of the country and unfilled jobs in another part. Incentives could be part of the conversation, but there's an equally important part of the conversation: How do we facilitate the linkages? How do we help workers know about the opportunities? How do we help employers know where they might be able to find the labour they are looking for? Those are the things we are studying very intently.

1 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Bryan May

Thank you.

MP Diotte, you have time for a very brief question.

February 19th, 2019 / 1 p.m.

Conservative

Kerry Diotte Conservative Edmonton Griesbach, AB

We've heard that Toronto gets 106,000 new permanent residents, or they did in 2018, and obviously there are shortages of workers there. How much effort is going into attracting immigrants to Canada with the trades that Canada direly needs? How much more could be done in that regard?

1 p.m.

Associate Assistant Deputy Minister, Strategic and Program Policy, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Natasha Kim

Overall, I'd say that Canada often doesn't have an attraction problem when it comes to immigration. There is often much more demand to come here than there is supply. Under our levels plan, we do try to manage the amount of immigration Canada takes in every year, but often the number of people interested in coming here is much higher, so of course we have that dynamic.

When it comes to skilled trades in particular, we support what the market is looking for. If employers have jobs available and have recruited someone, they can use the open pathways we have, both federally and provincially, to—

1 p.m.

Conservative

Kerry Diotte Conservative Edmonton Griesbach, AB

Right now, of those 106,000 new permanent residents, how many are working?

1 p.m.

Associate Assistant Deputy Minister, Strategic and Program Policy, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Natasha Kim

I'd have to see; I think Statistics Canada released something in December that showed there were very high levels of employment.