Evidence of meeting #74 for Citizenship and Immigration in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was brunswick.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Herb Emery  Vaughan Chair in Regional Economics, University of New Brunswick, As an Individual
Karl Flecker  Immigrant Employment Specialist, KEYS Job Centre
Roxanne Reeves  Author and Researcher, Intercultural Mentoring Specialist, University of New Brunswick, As an Individual
Penny Walsh McGuire  Executive Director, Greater Charlottetown Area Chamber of Commerce
Amanda McDougall  Councillor, Cape Breton Regional Municipality
Katherine d'Entremont  Commissioner of Official Languages for New Brunswick, Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages for New Brunswick

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair (Mr. Robert Oliphant (Don Valley West, Lib.)) Liberal Rob Oliphant

Welcome, everyone.

I'm going to call to order the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration, meeting number 74.

We will begin our business on the agenda today, but I would like to first receive the 12th report of the Subcommittee on Agenda and Procedure, which met earlier today. Committee members were given a copy a little earlier, I believe, of the decisions that were made at the subcommittee meeting.

I would now entertain a motion that the full committee approve the report from the subcommittee.

It's moved by Ms. Zahid and Mr. Maguire.

(Motion agreed to)

Thank you.

As you know, pursuant to the order of reference of November 2, 2016, this standing committee has been tasked with preparing a study for the chamber on the subject of immigration to Atlantic Canada, otherwise known as M-39. I'm delighted that Ms. Lockhart, the initial proposer of the amendment, is here.

I always remind the committee that this is now a House motion. While you've moved it, the whole of the House of Commons owns it. We're very proud that the whole of the House will be eagerly awaiting our report.

We're midstream in the study. This is the last week of hearing witness testimony. I'm very pleased to have two witnesses in person, Mr. Flecker and Ms. Reeves. Mr. Emery is joining us via video conference.

Even though it's not in the order of our agenda, we'll go with Mr. Emery first. Because the video gods sometimes are not kind, I tend to go with the teleconference first just in case something goes wrong. Each of the witnesses has about seven minutes to make a presentation.

We're going to begin, then, with Mr. Emery, the Vaughan chair in regional economics, at UNB.

Take it away.

October 16th, 2017 / 3:30 p.m.

Dr. Herb Emery Vaughan Chair in Regional Economics, University of New Brunswick, As an Individual

Thank you.

I just want to say from the outset that since this is your 74th meeting, I don't think you'll hear much that's new to you, but I'll see if I can provide a new way of framing, maybe, the report you're going to do.

I also want to say at the outset that in case I come across as somehow being against an immigration pilot, I'm not. I'm actually strongly in favour of higher immigration levels to Canada and increasing investment in newcomers once they're here. I really want to see an Atlantic immigration pilot succeed.

From that perspective, I want to raise a concern that I have with a lot of the discussion that I hear in Atlantic Canada, which is that it largely focuses on issues of labour supply and a belief that by adding more people to the economy we can drive growth. This is something that's going to be a problem if we don't start to think more about a complementary strategy of private sector investment to bring up labour demand and create opportunities for newcomers.

One of the issues that's going to come up is that it's hard to picture how increasing labour supply can cause growth unless we have a glut in labour market that can depress wages and then bring in the investment. We have to think through the mechanism we're thinking of. A labour supply strategy requires gluts that will drive investment by increasing return to capital. The alternative is to figure out other ways to bring in the investment first, stimulate the wage growth, and stimulate the productivity of labour. Labour will come in to follow the opportunity.

An example of why I'm concerned about this is a study we recently conducted looking at return migrants to New Brunswick. Using tax filer data, we followed New Brunswick residents who moved out to Alberta and worked for at least two years, and then we looked at them when they came back to New Brunswick. We looked at what their earnings were like when they were in Alberta, what they were like when they returned, and what did this tell us about the New Brunswick economy and its capacity to absorb more labour.

If it was the case that New Brunswick was lacking labour, then by bringing back these more experienced, higher human capital return migrants who know the culture and the labour market well, we should have seen that their earnings were higher when they returned than when they left. We should also have seen that their earnings were a product of who they are as opposed to where they worked, so that when they moved to Alberta, their earnings would be in line with the human capital endowment they took from New Brunswick. We would expect to see some kind of earnings relationship when they returned.

What we saw was that a New Brunswick resident who moved to Alberta was worth twice as much while they were working there as they were in New Brunswick. Upon returning to New Brunswick, they had the same earnings as they would have had had they never left. When a worker's human capital is worth twice as much in Alberta as it is in New Brunswick, this tells us that it's not the person, that it's the place.

What we have to think about is what it is about the place that makes someone worth so much less. The biggest difference between Alberta and New Brunswick is the amount of capital per worker, or the level of labour demand. What this tells us is that if you pick a human capital policy like immigration alone to drive growth, you're pushing on a rope. You just don't have the capacity in the economy to absorb the added labour.

If we're not going to add to labour demand and it's not possible to consider an investment strategy, how does immigration drive growth?

There are two remaining channels that we can think about. One is the churn. This is something that we learned about in Canada in the 1990s with the great brain drain. Canadians were moving to the U.S., and we used immigration to backfill the labour supply that was created by the out-migration. We have substantial out-migration from Atlantic Canada, so what we would be using immigration for is to replace as much as we can the human capital that we're losing from the exodus.

The other side that you hear a lot about is labour shortages. This amounts to finding immigrants to fill gaps. The challenge with this is that it's largely anecdotal how big these labour shortages are, just like it has been across Canada when labour shortage is raised to justify a different immigration stream. We don't know how much potential the gap filling has to absorb more immigrants.

The bigger concern that I have is that the reason you get gaps in the labour market—skill shortages and labour shortages—is that you have something that's dysfunctional in your labour market. Wages can't adjust and employment can't adjust. If you're bringing more people into a labour market that's dysfunctional, it's not clear that adding them is going to resolve the problem. It's not clear that these gaps can be filled in a sustainable way without causing problems for a valuation of a pilot like this.

In conclusion, as someone who sees benefits from immigration to Canada, I would like to see an immigration strategy for the Atlantic region that's sensible in its scale in terms of the labour market of the region. I believe that is going to require a pretty serious discussion that brings investment strategies in as a complementary focus.

Thank you.

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Rob Oliphant

Thank you very much, Professor.

We'll go to Mr. Flecker.

3:35 p.m.

Karl Flecker Immigrant Employment Specialist, KEYS Job Centre

Thank you, Chair, and thank you, all, for the opportunity to make a few inputs today.

I'm an immigrant employment specialist with the KEYS Job Centre in Kingston, Ontario. I have served as the national director for human rights and anti-racism for the Canadian Labour Congress for more than eight years, where I was the lead on the labour migration file. Since 2007, I have contributed to the United Nations high-level dialogue on international migration and development, and I've participated as a labour expert at numerous national and international fora. My family also first landed here as immigrants in Atlantic Canada. We didn't stay.

The AIP is a good initiative. In particular, having an employer-driven program align itself with the service provider sector to devise individual settlement plans is smart. It's a good move. I want to focus a few of my comments on some recommendations for the potential expansion of this program and the retention issue.

Academics, like Oreopoulos and Dechief, and Ramos and Yoshida, specifically have looked at why recent immigrants leave Atlantic Canada. The number two reason they found is high rates of immigrants experiencing discrimination. What are you going to do?

Number one, invest in public campaigns that promote the benefits of immigration and that implicitly address xenophobia while building alliances with other marginalized workers. This means partnership campaigns with community, youth, and indigenous groups, municipalities, settlement agencies, unions, employers, and faith-based groups. This strategy pays off. Why? It mitigates the us and them divide. Wherever possible, link such campaigns to support inclusive and comprehensive labour force development strategies.

Two, jobs are good, and mentorship makes things even better. Peer-to-peer occupational mentoring helps skilled workers understand the cultural nuances and informal protocols within their professions. Mentor programs build professional networks, improve social integration, and support retention. Calgary's mayor, Naheed Nenshi, has spoken about creating space for a newcomer within his office team. The newcomer, it turns out, was an elected official in his own country. You can call that mayoral mentoring. My point is that when newcomers have a profile within a community, it can serve as a positive counter to xenophobia, like when newcomers are the public face in occupations like municipal clerks, bus drivers, city planners, or staff in the mayor's office. My point is to consider the public sector as well as the private sector for opportunities. I can say more of this in the Q and A.

Three, go global with local newcomer talent. Newcomers typically maintain strong ties with their home countries, including valuable connections with industry professionals, and they often bring an innovative lens. At our agency we maintain an inventory of newcomer skills and a brief profile of their home country social and economic networks. We are working with our local economic development commission to map local small and medium-sized enterprises that want to expand into global markets or source products internationally. Together, we offer seminars for these SMEs that are delivered by newcomers who have business-relevant experience or ties to international markets or manufacturers.

Here is a quick example. Yang is a newcomer from China. She has extensive experience in factory production. She ran a factory. She is a member of the factory owners association and is knowledgeable about quality control and exporting. Local small and medium enterprises that are in need but unfamiliar with how to source parts, or how to deal with quality control or import rules, are linked with her. This pairing promotes business expansion. The seminars are provided to the SMEs with skilled expertise on how to expand or improve their operational efficiency by capitalizing on newcomers' global marketplace knowledge. Newcomers' experience is valued, remunerated, and leads to increased economic growth, social integration, retention, and cross-cultural appreciation.

Four, let's keep people safe, healthy and empowered. This adds to retention. The Institute for Work and Health, which our agency works with, has done some very telling research. Ninety per cent of immigrant workplace injuries require medical attention, compared to 65% for other workers. Newcomers are more likely to be employed in jobs with a high number of workplace health and safety hazards. Recent immigrants are also less likely to access compensation after a workplace injury. Newcomers are often unfamiliar with safety precautions and the workplace injury claim and compensation processes.

The most recent study that we participated in looked at four dimensions of OH and S vulnerability: level of hazard facing the workers, workplace policies and procedures, worker awareness of hazards and rights and responsibilities, and the level of worker empowerment. The key takeaways for your study are that newcomers are exposed to more workplace hazards, and their low empowerment, their awareness of their rights and entitlements, increases their vulnerability.

What are the implications and recommendations? OH and S training needs to be done at many different times, in many different ways. More systemic training is required. Start early and at the lower ESL levels. We can't just be sending folks to websites. We have to target the sectors that are employing the newcomers. We have to involve the settlement sector, unions, and workers associations, and we need to ensure that the training addresses the entitlements and expectations of the newcomers. It has to be a two-way street. We have to establish a champion or a lead agency that works with the above stakeholders.

Last, different newcomers in different job categories need different supports. Dr. Ather Akbari from the Sobey school of business at Saint Mary's University projects that by 2018, there will be 56,000 and some job opportunities in Atlantic Canada, with the bulk being made up of labouring jobs, about 4,500, and intermediate skill level jobs, about 16,600, as well as technical or paraprofessional skill level jobs, about 17,500, give or take. He projects that only 18,000 will be in the higher skill level job opportunities.

He projects that 35% to 45% of immigrant job seekers are going to be in jobs that require intermediate to labourer skill levels. That newcomer profile is different from the highly skilled immigrant. What are you going to do? Some recommendations would be to invest in ESL training on the job site and provide tailored OH and S supports, and integrate the delivery with the involvement of unions, employers, and the settlement sector. This is going to help bring broader community and workplace integration, mitigate some xenophobia, and increase retention.

Thank you for your time.

3:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Rob Oliphant

Thank you very much.

Ms. Reeves, you're next.

3:40 p.m.

Dr. Roxanne Reeves Author and Researcher, Intercultural Mentoring Specialist, University of New Brunswick, As an Individual

I am honoured to be here today to speak about immigration. I am motivated by my vision for New Brunswick, having eyes on our region, and a passion for my home province of New Brunswick.

There exists a myth that New Brunswick has a retention problem. Every myth is based on a kernel of truth. That truth is that New Brunswick has a retention problem, and the truth is that it is similar to that of almost all non-cosmopolitan areas of similar economic and population profiles in Canada. The myth is that New Brunswick's retention problem can be compared to that of cosmopolitan Canada.

The statistics are misrepresented. Currently, New Brunswick's retention statistics include immigrants who never make it to New Brunswick. For example, there are economic principal applicants or economic class immigrants who have stated their intent to live and start a business in New Brunswick, but upon landing in cosmopolitan MTV—Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver—go no further. They don't just go poof and disappear. These Canadian metropolises are now benefiting from our immigration allocation. New Brunswick is an intake point for Canada, but Canada is not an effective intake point for us.

The Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration was instructed to undertake a study on immigration to Atlantic Canada. I am here to speak to the study point addressing the challenge of retaining new immigrants. My perspective on the experience of newcomers is shaped by years working in Asia and by my experience researching intercultural mentorship as a support for newcomer immigrant entrepreneurs arriving in non-metropolitan Canada.

One case study for such research is the business immigrant mentorship program, piloted in 2008 by the New Brunswick Population Growth Secretariat, in partnership with the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce. The program was the first of its kind, not only in Canada but in North America. The business immigrant mentorship program is currently delivered in Fredericton, Moncton, Saint John, Edmundston, and Bathurst. Other jurisdictions in Canada and elsewhere have borrowed from that model.

These immigrants, our newest Maritimers—or what I call modern pioneer settlers—have moved to small-town Canada, where they won't often see themselves reflected back. In small-town Canada, networks are particularly homogeneous, mainstream New Brunswick. Modern pioneer settlers need more assistance.

Recognizing the limitations of the current business ecosystem, the business immigrant mentorship program was designed to mix things up a bit. It's a social innovation designed to provide newcomer immigrant entrepreneurs, our modern pioneers, with the opportunity to learn from seasoned entrepreneur mentors, pairing immigrant mentees with local business people who act as mentors. The business immigrant mentorship program offers both networking opportunities and professional support. These business mentors not infrequently find themselves organically becoming newcomer community hosts.

There is a great interest in what's happening in New Brunswick. Other jurisdictions are now replicating New Brunswick's business immigrant mentorship program in their communities. In part through the International Mentoring Association's recognition of my research of the program, this program is now recognized globally.

We have acknowledged that New Brunswick does have a retention problem, shared by other non-metropolitan communities in Canada. The current comparison at a provincial level with provinces with larger metropolitan cities puts New Brunswick at a disadvantage.

I would now like to speak about retaining our new immigrants. In addition to the business immigrant mentorship program and the Atlantic immigration pilot, what will the rest of us do to pitch in? What can individuals do? The absence of institutionally complete communities or strong ethnic communities in non-metropolitan Canada means that immigrants, this century's modern pioneer settlers, are often unable to rely on co-ethnic ties, nor on their own community resource elements, considered essential for retention and resiliency.

Newcomers want to be a part of the community, and they really want to be part of caring communities. Each of us has an ongoing role to play. Being giving and friendly is, many would say, in the Maritimers' DNA. We are famous for our down-east warmth. In my mind, it's not a big stretch for us to get more up close and personal—and I don't mean “let's be friendly”. All of us are proficient at drive-by kindness in the Maritimes. What I'm saying is that we need to take some time and become mentors to our newcomers, all of us. Let's reach out in an intentional and personal way.

Most recently, when Syrian refugees arrived in Fredericton, an integration committee called First Fredericton Friend saw at least two volunteers matched with each new family. The program was so successful that it caught on and was replicated, spreading across the country. The retention of New Brunswick Syrians is 90% currently.

Mentorship is increasingly seen as an important part of a larger retention strategy. Mentor character traits include curiosity, integrity, positivity, humility, and compassion. For mentors it can take courage to embark on the role. If you're not sure if you have what it takes, go to the TED Talks channel on YouTube. There are TED Talks on mentorship, including mine. They may be a useful guide.

Fundamentally, it all comes down to the individual. While the Atlantic immigration pilot and the business immigrant mentorship program are important, and the involvement of private sector investment and immigrant servicing agencies are also essential, there still remains a gap in our strategy for retaining newcomers. Cultivating relationships with local residents assists in anchoring immigrants in their new community and forming an identity as part of that community, but how are these relationships cultivated? Who should reach out to whom, and where should that effort come from? Mentorship at the individual level will strengthen the bonds of existing communities, encourage diversity of thought, culture, and experience in a region, and revitalize volunteerism.

Mentoring our newcomer modern pioneers is essential to ensuring retention of newcomers. Members of Parliament, I'm asking you to create awareness and formally and informally encourage individual Canadians, those you know and those you come to meet, to become newcomer community hosts.

Thank you for your time.

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Rob Oliphant

Thank you very much.

Thank you to all the witnesses for your time management, which is much appreciated.

We will begin the first round of questioning with Mr. Whalen.

You have seven minutes.

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

Nick Whalen Liberal St. John's East, NL

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

Thank you all for coming. It's great that you've all homed in on an important aspect of our study, which is really how to ensure not only that we attract immigrants to the region but that we retain them.

From one perspective, on the capital per worker side, obviously, there need to be jobs for people when they get there. If there is a structural issue with respect to retention, and if all regions of the country used best practices in retention, those structural issues, and the attraction of the larger metropolitan areas, are going to remain. My question for all three witnesses is this. Should there be a differential allocation for rural areas of Canada in order to ensure that ultimately all regions of the country benefit equitably from immigration?

Dr. Reeves, we'll start with you.

3:50 p.m.

Author and Researcher, Intercultural Mentoring Specialist, University of New Brunswick, As an Individual

Dr. Roxanne Reeves

Thank you for the question.

I agree that the structural implications are imperative to take into consideration. If that's done, then you're right that retention does become a huge element that we need to address, complementary to government investment, private sector investment, and the agencies that serve newcomers. As I have mentioned, there's a real role for individuals. At this point, increasingly it seems to me that's a gap and that's an area we address through awareness building.

Mr. Flecker also had some points with regard to the awareness building to dispel myths and to create greater community among our newcomers. I would echo his sentiments and add to mine the importance of asking individuals to step in.

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

Nick Whalen Liberal St. John's East, NL

Mr. Flecker, in addition to all the recommendations you have on doing a better job at retention, which I agree with, even if we do these things, do you think there should be a larger allocation to rural areas so that ultimately they end up with an equitable amount of immigration and as a driver for rural economic growth?

3:50 p.m.

Immigrant Employment Specialist, KEYS Job Centre

Karl Flecker

That's a good point that you're bringing, Mr. Whelan.

I don't know if I would limit it to just rural areas. Different parts of the country and different communities have different needs, so different allocations I think need to take into account those different realities. I've had the pleasure of living in Morden, Manitoba; Vancouver, B.C.; Huntsville and Orangeville, Ontario; lots of different places. Each one of those communities has different pros and cons. As the child of an immigrant family, when I watched my parents, their needs were different in those different places, so, yes, there should be different allocations. I wouldn't necessarily limit it just to the rural-urban divide. I think we have to take a look at the realities of what the different parts of Canada require.

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

Nick Whalen Liberal St. John's East, NL

Dr. Emery, what are your thoughts on whether or not differential allocations should take into account retention rates as they stand, or as they could be under best practices? Is that something the committee should look at?

3:50 p.m.

Vaughan Chair in Regional Economics, University of New Brunswick, As an Individual

Dr. Herb Emery

The problem with that strategy is if you do some kind of allocation of how many immigrants can go to which place, and you don't talk about the market forces that are going to be in play once they're there, the initial endowment isn't going to matter. People are going to filter to where the opportunities are and where things are more welcoming.

This is where the strategy can't just be about the allocation alone. If you even look at capital subsidies that come in, if you want a plant to go into a particular location, say a rural location, there will be payroll rebates, and there'll be other kinds of incentives to keep the capital there.

If you want to do a rural allocation and you know that Toronto has an advantage in reducing risk for an immigrant in terms of other opportunities if one job doesn't work out, what are you going to complement the quota or the allocation with in terms of incentives to stay? How are you going to offset something like more difficulty getting work experience in one location? Is there going to be a tax break? Is there going to be some kind of direct bursary or payment? We do this with students.

Again, we need to move away from the thinking that it's just as simple as giving an allocation. We need to think about the market we're doing that allocation in. If you don't have constraints on where to keep people, they'll just go to Toronto or wherever the opportunities are higher.

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Nick Whalen Liberal St. John's East, NL

Mr. Emery, on that line, with respect to capital flows, some provinces have moved away from investor class immigration. Others have embraced it more as the complement of an overall strategy for an area. What are your views on the use of investor class immigration to encourage capital flows to a particular area to drive the labour demand in those areas for additional immigration?

3:55 p.m.

Vaughan Chair in Regional Economics, University of New Brunswick, As an Individual

Dr. Herb Emery

There is obviously an appeal in doing that. When you have high demand for citizenship in your country, you have an asset you can sell to an investor, but when I'm talking about capital investment, I'm talking about things like, if you look at Saskatchewan, resource projects which turned around their population situation, reversed their population aging, and brought in immigration. We want investment for our resource projects, for industry. We want to think about general trade flows. Where's the labour going to come from to make sure that we can produce and be competitive with the United States and highly productive? It's not just the business class.

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Nick Whalen Liberal St. John's East, NL

Thank you.

Mr. Flecker, you talked about using part of the on-boarding process, perhaps, but also to reduce xenophobia, this notion of tapping into the—I'll make sure I use the right phrase—global marketplace knowledge of newcomers in order to help drive growth.

With respect to that aspect of trade and approving trade, within the Atlantic growth strategy, we're focusing on the immigration pilot. We're also focusing on some additional pillars.

What places have you seen in Canada where they've done this well? What companies have done this well? I'm wondering what we can learn from that as a way to drive labour demand, because of course trade balance and better trade also drive capital flows.

3:55 p.m.

Immigrant Employment Specialist, KEYS Job Centre

Karl Flecker

There are a couple of things. First, when we initiated this idea of tapping into the business knowledge that our highly skilled immigrants had, to be very frank, we brought them together because we saw how frustrated they were trying to get into their professions, because of the systemic barriers that I'm sure you're all aware of. We thought we'd hold a group therapy session where people could complain to each other. One thing led to another and people started talking about what they could offer. This was in the wake of not being able to become a doctor or an engineer. That led us to having the conversation with the local economic development commission, and from that we picked up this opportunity to be able to expand global markets. It's very ad hoc. It's based on what this one small business needs, and pairing it with that particular group, but it pointed out to us the fact that there's a systemic solution here. This didn't start because we decided to develop an investor class. This started because we have a failed immigration system that doesn't allow professionals to move laterally into their professions. Rather than work at Tim Hortons for $11.60 an hour, they want to know what else they can do. I think that's what's making this successful.

The second thing, on that investor class question I think you put to Mr. Emery, is to be cautious here. Take a look at the track record that governments have had with the investor class. It's a bad track record. It's a small program. It hasn't been well monitored and it has allowed people to buy citizenship and not create jobs. I wouldn't rush at the investor class piece thinking it's going to stimulate growth. The experience we had has had this unintended benefit that has given some dignity back to the professional class, the people who can't end up working in their professions, and they're moving into different areas, and local businesses are seeing some benefit from it, but it didn't happen by design.

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Rob Oliphant

Thank you both.

Mr. Saroya, you have about eight minutes.

4 p.m.

Conservative

Bob Saroya Conservative Markham—Unionville, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair

Thank you, panel, for coming and giving us your expertise.

First of all, we want Atlantic Canada to be successful. We want the population to go back to 10% of the Canadian population that you had back in 1966.

I have a couple of questions. How do you retain the people? It's easy to bring the people to Atlantic Canada, but how would you retain them?

Ms. Reeves, given your experience and expertise, how successful would you say retaining immigrants has been on the east coast, but more specifically in your province? Additionally, what do you believe will ensure that immigrants will stay in the region?

4 p.m.

Author and Researcher, Intercultural Mentoring Specialist, University of New Brunswick, As an Individual

Dr. Roxanne Reeves

Our success has been limited. Currently there is a great appetite to change that around. Demography and demographics has been discussed now on the ground like it has never been discussed in the past. Communities are beginning to understand that if they don't grow their communities, they are going to lose schools. They are going to lose their infrastructure.

With regard to what have we seen that works, the most recent example would be the Syrian refugees. When they arrived, we had to turn around very quickly with the response to support our newcomers. We created the first friends, and buttressed them with additional personal supports, such as people who could show up and take them to their doctors' appointments, people who could take them to get ID, people who could take them to the immigrant service agencies so they could learn how to write a resumé. When we had those elements buttressed, our retention rates increased to 90%.

It indicates to me that there is a real role for individuals to play in retaining our immigrants, and the Syrians are increasingly employed.

4 p.m.

Conservative

Bob Saroya Conservative Markham—Unionville, ON

Dr. Emery, would you have something to add?

4 p.m.

Vaughan Chair in Regional Economics, University of New Brunswick, As an Individual

Dr. Herb Emery

I'll go back to the return migrants study I talked about, the New Brunswickers who came back. One of the interesting things in retention was that of the New Brunswickers who left and returned, half of them came back from Alberta over the next 10 years after they departed.

For the group that returned to the province in 2005-06, when forest products were collapsing, very few of them remained in the province for one or two years after they had returned.

It was like skipping a stone off the economy. If you don't have the labour demand booming because you don't have your economy firing, you don't keep people. Retention on the one hand is pretty simple. We have to be talking about business opportunities in the region. We have to be thinking more about what projects are going to bring the private sector investment to the province, which is going to drive labour demand. That's what's missing from a lot of the discussion. We know the retention rate has been stable for about a decade at least, and it's around 60% after the first year. If you want to get that up, we have to start thinking about the job opportunities in year one, and not just for 10 or 20 people, but for hundreds to thousands.

4 p.m.

Conservative

Bob Saroya Conservative Markham—Unionville, ON

Dr. Emery, what are the job prospects over the next 10 years? I will tell you from my personal experience that when I came back in the 1970s, the job market was slow. It was tough. Every single day I would get up not knowing where I was going to end up, how many TTC texts I would need just to go knocking on door after door. When the job market shrank, all the employer wanted to know was whether you had a Canadian experience.

When we're talking about bringing new Canadians to the Atlantic provinces, jobs are the key to retaining people. What are the prospects of keeping the jobs in the Atlantic provinces for the next 10 years?

4 p.m.

Vaughan Chair in Regional Economics, University of New Brunswick, As an Individual

Dr. Herb Emery

Again, the Province of New Brunswick has made a decision not to pursue shale gas. Energy east was a project that had been played up as a real opportunity. The port of Saint John expansion, which is going to potentially add an effective 10% increase in traffic would be another area that would stimulate jobs in sectors like transportation and port shipments. Again, it's always coming back to the natural endowment of the region, which is in its natural resource sector, but we have a region that chooses not to exploit its comparative advantage.

We have headwinds coming with things like the softwood lumber tariffs and free trade. Again, the complementary strategy is to get the provinces working on their comparative advantage and creating those opportunities. The labour and immigration will follow if we can get labour demand sorted out.

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Bob Saroya Conservative Markham—Unionville, ON

Let's talk about energy east. We were expecting about 15,000 jobs and 55 million dollars' worth of investment going in there. What effect would that have in keeping new immigrants on the east coast?