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

October 16th, 2017 / 5:25 p.m.

Liberal

Randeep Sarai Liberal Surrey Centre, BC

Thank you, Chair.

Thank you to our guests.

Ms. McGuire, what percentage of international students do you retain? Do you have any numbers on how many you've been able to retain?

5:25 p.m.

Executive Director, Greater Charlottetown Area Chamber of Commerce

Penny Walsh McGuire

I don't. I know that we have the highest international student population per capita in both of our post-secondary institutions here in P.E.I., but I don't have the retention numbers specifically for international students. As mentioned, I do think that the international student stream of the AIP has potential, but I think it will take until next year before we see that uptake.

5:25 p.m.

Liberal

Randeep Sarai Liberal Surrey Centre, BC

What kind of efforts do employers make when it comes to hiring new international students?

5:25 p.m.

Executive Director, Greater Charlottetown Area Chamber of Commerce

Penny Walsh McGuire

I think there's an interest, but there are probably still some barriers that exist. We hear that from students from post-secondary. Perhaps the AIP will be an opportunity to educate employers on how the opportunities have opened up.

We do see, as I mentioned earlier, some added pressure and increasing demand for new grads to have work experience pre-grad. This government understands that, and they have programs in place to help support that, but we do hear from the international student offices and students that getting that pre-grad experience is a challenge. I mentioned the Canada summer jobs program with regard to trying to get separate work permits and the delays around that for co-op terms. Post-grad, I think it's around the time spent in Canada going towards citizenship eligibility. We, with several chambers across the country, are recommending that it be increased from half time to full time.

As for work permits, I'm not sure, but I think currently they're valid for three years. At any rate, we're recommending that a post-graduation work permit be valid for five years from the current three, regardless of the program of study, so long as they're studying at a recognized Canadian academic institution. I think there are barriers within the current program, but there also is an education opportunity with employers. As a chamber, we see ourselves having an important role in sharing and communicating to our members what that opportunity is.

5:25 p.m.

Liberal

Randeep Sarai Liberal Surrey Centre, BC

Yes. I just think that if you want immigrants, and you get students, and then you're not giving them the opportunity for co-op jobs and others...which hopefully your chamber of commerce members could do. Those are the best opportunities to get students—right out of school and during school. It serves no purpose giving them longer work permits if you can't give them a job. If you give them a job in their field of study, the likelihood of them staying and being retained after two, three, or five years is much higher. They'll have made their roots.

Do you also help in terms of mentoring? Are there any mentoring programs?

5:30 p.m.

Executive Director, Greater Charlottetown Area Chamber of Commerce

Penny Walsh McGuire

I'm glad you brought that up. We are actually exploring a pilot right now that is mentoring-related. It has components of networking and liaising new grads, new immigrants, and interprovincial newcomers to P.E.I. with leaders in various sectors. We continue to hear from newcomers to P.E.I. broadly—I'm speaking about local grads, international grads, immigrants, and interprovincial newcomers—that sometimes it's who you know. Creating those links and those meaningful relationships and building trust between newcomers to P.E.I. and industry leaders is really key for someone's name to jump off the page.

We also know that jobs are often not advertised. I'm not criticizing the employers here. It's just the way things have evolved. Small-business owners particularly maybe don't have the resources to do full-blown job searches. We're seeing that as another challenge, and we're looking at that. Through the P.E.I. and national connectors programs, we're looking at a pilot that would connect newcomers to industry leaders to help build relationships and networks so that they are not just a name on a resumé.

5:30 p.m.

Liberal

Randeep Sarai Liberal Surrey Centre, BC

I'll cede the rest of my time to Mr. Tabbara.

5:30 p.m.

Liberal

Marwan Tabbara Liberal Kitchener South—Hespeler, ON

Thank you very much.

I'll just get straight into the questions.

Ms. McDougall, you talked about choosing to live outside the capital region and trying to get immigrants and students to stay within those regions. I'll briefly explain that I'm from the Waterloo region and we're just about an hour away from Toronto. We have been very successful in getting international students and other workers within our region.

Can you explain some of the barriers international students face in trying to enter the workforce? What type of financial aid is available for international students from the federal government?

5:30 p.m.

Councillor, Cape Breton Regional Municipality

Amanda McDougall

In terms of financial aid, there is nothing.

A barrier would be this. Obviously Sydney is approximately five and a half hours from Halifax, which is where all of the settlement services are. We have one designated immigration consultant on the island, but she is hired by the university; therefore, she is not able to help with anybody who is not a student. This is a big problem. This is very eye-opening, and I hope you remember it.

Nova Scotia Immigration does provide some funding to provide settlement services to folks on Cape Breton Island. However, to Nova Scotia Immigration, international students have end dates. They are not permanent residents, so anybody who is working for the settlement services providers in Cape Breton is not legally allowed to work with international students because they will be leaving. They aren't looking at them as potential for permanent residency. That in itself is so frustrating because you are literally letting sand slip through your fingers by not recognizing the resource and opportunity we have with students in Cape Breton.

5:30 p.m.

Liberal

Marwan Tabbara Liberal Kitchener South—Hespeler, ON

I just want to rephrase that. What financial aid for international students in the province is available?

5:30 p.m.

Councillor, Cape Breton Regional Municipality

5:30 p.m.

Liberal

Marwan Tabbara Liberal Kitchener South—Hespeler, ON

Is that even with the province as well?

5:30 p.m.

Councillor, Cape Breton Regional Municipality

Amanda McDougall

We have no financial aid programs for students, no.

5:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Rob Oliphant

Thank you very much for that, and because this is so great, we'll continue tomorrow morning at 8:45.

The meeting is adjourned.