Evidence of meeting #77 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 region.

A video is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Jeffrey Green  Director, Talent Acquisition, J.D. Irving, Limited
Susan Wilson  Director, Human Resources, Sawmills and Woodlands Division, J.D. Irving, Limited
Angelique Reddy-Kalala  Immigration Strategy Officer, City of Moncton
Charles Leger  Deputy Mayor, City of Moncton
Yoko Yoshida  Associate Professor, Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology, Dalhousie University, As an Individual
Howard Ramos  Professor, Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology, Dalhousie University, As an Individual
Michael Haan  Canada Research Chair in Migration and Ethnic Relations, Department of Sociology, Western University, As an Individual

8:50 a.m.


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

Good morning. I call the meeting to order.

Welcome everyone.

Welcome to the 77th meeting of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration in our 42nd Parliament.

Today will be our last meeting hearing witnesses' testimony. We are continuing with respect to the order of reference on the study of immigration to Atlantic Canada, known as motion M-39.

We welcome all our witnesses. You're kind of the cleanup crew to make sure we have everything we need before we consider a report to Parliament, which we hope will further this issue for not only Atlantic Canada but for all Canadians who are concerned about this situation.

We will begin with Susan Wilson and Jeffrey Green, who are joining us through video conference from J.D. Irving in Saint John, New Brunswick.

You have seven minutes.

8:50 a.m.

Jeffrey Green Director, Talent Acquisition, J.D. Irving, Limited

Thank you.

On our slide deck, we'll reference slide number 3 to begin with.

J.D. Irving, Limited has a long, proud history of operations here in Atlantic Canada, particularly in the province of New Brunswick.

Our core business is forestry and forest products. As you can see, we're diversified across a number of industries, from construction and shipbuilding to retail and consumer products.

Moving ahead to slide number 4, you can see a snapshot of our projection for our workforce needs over the next three years up to 2019. It highlights that we have a number of job opportunities, career opportunities, with our projection being a little over 7,700 jobs to fill to 2019 in Atlantic Canada, with most of those jobs being here in New Brunswick.

Moving ahead to slide number 5, you can see a snapshot of a number of our jobs here in New Brunswick where the core requirements around education require high school, trade certification, or a college degree. Our highlight here is that these are good jobs, local jobs. Our requirement is for an educated and skilled workforce to fill these roles.

Similarly, moving ahead to slide number 6, you can see our projection of almost 730 jobs in New Brunswick for which a university education will be required, again emphasizing an educated and skilled workforce. Most of those jobs, as you can see, are in engineering and finance, right at the top of the list.

From a strategy perspective, moving forward to slide number 7, our strategy for growing and building our workforce has four key pillars, starting with keeping folks at home. For us, that's about engaging the next generation workforce but also growing and developing our workforce here at home, and that's about building the skills and capability of the Atlantic Canada workforce.

One of our pillars is also looking to bring Atlantic Canadians home, whether that's from across Canada or elsewhere. Of course, the immigration piece, working to find people to make Atlantic Canada their home, would be the fourth pillar of our overall strategy.

8:50 a.m.

Susan Wilson Director, Human Resources, Sawmills and Woodlands Division, J.D. Irving, Limited

Moving to slide number 8, I'd like to talk a bit about specific attraction and retention challenges here in the Atlantic provinces.

First, related to current residents of Canada, candidates we speak to see a lack of opportunities, driven by perceived low growth of the economy in the area and high taxes. That would be something we would be having conversations about with our candidates within the Atlantic provinces or within Canada.

Specific, though, to the immigrant community, it is a challenge to build a cultural network in the Atlantic provinces significant enough to create a critical mass and attract immigrants to the area, specifically in consideration of larger centres such as Montreal, Toronto, or Vancouver. The challenge of building a sense of belonging and creating those communities in Atlantic Canada is a particular challenge.

We move to slide number 8, which speaks specifically to the Atlantic immigration pilot. In our experience to date, it is a very good initiative, in our opinion, and it completely aligns with the strategies that Jeff laid out earlier. We've seen a significant improvement in the processing times to go through the immigration steps and improved support through both the federal and provincial governments.

I would speak specifically to strong partnerships on the provincial side. We've approved 19 candidates through the Atlantic immigration pilot to date, with 14 more in progress. Our numbers continue to go up specifically in the areas of truck driving, forestry operators, skilled trades, and IT.

What follows are recommendations from J.D. Irving related to the pilot.

We'd like to see continued support in finding more candidates and a more aggressive recruiting approach in partnership with our government, as opposed to a passive approach. We'd like to see assistance to employers to find the expertise and skills we're trying to source, and help for the candidates during the process through improving relationships with the candidates and through the government helping people through the steps of the immigration process.

Second, we are recommending an integrated access for employers to settlement services, what we're calling a one-stop shop to assist employers in seeking out and utilizing the settlement resources that are available to us.

Third, another area for opportunity would be criteria in the process that would assist employers with retention. Perhaps employers could have a means to secure new candidates to stay with their employer for a period of 18 to 24 months to help with retention.

Thank you. Those are our comments.

8:50 a.m.


The Chair Liberal Rob Oliphant

Very good. Thank you very much.

I think slide 7 is quite clever, with the “keep them home, grow at home, bring them home, and make it home” idea. Someone did a good job on that.

Thank you.

We'll move to the City of Moncton.

8:50 a.m.

Angelique Reddy-Kalala Immigration Strategy Officer, City of Moncton

Good morning, everyone.

Thank you, merci, for allowing us to speak with you today on an issue that is of great importance to Monctonians.

Our community has been very active and innovative on ways to integrate immigrants. Through our experience with the Atlantic immigration pilot, we will outline ideas to increase immigration, attraction, integration, and retention.

Our community is trying to attract a significant number of immigrants over the next decade—15,000—just to ensure we can maintain our current population. To grow the economy, we need closer to 25,000 over the next 10 years. Currently, we attract approximately a thousand newcomers a year, and this does not include the one thousand international students who are living in the city.

Moncton is a welcoming community and we are working hard to implement key initiatives and services for immigrants, but we also feel that changes in federal policy, along with financial support, would enable us to be even more efficient and effective in supporting immigrants and newcomers in the Moncton area. Moncton has hundreds of available positions in such key sectors as IT, finance, insurance, back office support, and tracking and logistics, just to name a few.

8:55 a.m.

Charles Leger Deputy Mayor, City of Moncton

To maximize our efforts, we wish to propose the following recommendations.

Having an on-site Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, or IRCC, office in New Brunswick's largest city would provide immigrants and their families a direct contact that is badly needed. An on-site office would be key to having a lot of important questions answered quickly. We have experienced immigrants moving to larger centres because of the access to an IRCC office. Without one on site in Moncton, it makes retention all the more challenging.

Francophone immigration is a high priority in New Brunswick. Université de Moncton attracts French-speaking students from around the globe. This is one place where we have direct access to educated individuals who would stay under the right circumstances.

However, we need additional financial resources to integrate international students into the labour market. We must make it easier for them to become permanent residents through increased access to language training and support services during their studies so they can integrate more easily after graduation into the labour market. This alone would increase retention with a group that should be easy to integrate and employ.

The City of Moncton believes increased funding and support for settlement organizations, such as the Multicultural Association of the Greater Moncton Area and Centre d'accueil et d'accompagnement francophone des immigrants du Sud-Est du Nouveau-Brunswick, would directly impact our retention levels. By reducing wait lists for language classes and day care spots, we can sooner enable spouses to find employment and build their lives in Moncton.

Support for ethnocultural associations and places of faith is another area we believe would offer a solid return on investment. There's no federal funding that we know of to help ethnocultural associations and places of worship support immigrant populations. This federal funding for support in a community like Moncton would have a significant impact.

In terms of the Atlantic immigration pilot, increased financial allocations will help grow our community. The city has been working diligently with our federal and provincial counterparts to identify employers. Although the pilot is new, from a Moncton perspective, what follow are the gaps that we see as the highest priority

Number one is that the Province of New Brunswick needs its own pre-arrival needs assessment service. We currently don't have a needs assessment or pre-arrival service in New Brunswick, yet we are best placed to provide the most accurate information on our cities and province. Allowing the province to administer its own service, or designating another agency to do so on its behalf, would improve service for newcomers and allow them to be better prepared prior to arrival.

Number two is increased support to employers. Immigration is still new in Atlantic Canada. More training and initiatives are key to getting employers on board. We need to find a way to directly support employers and to streamline and reduce complexities.

Number three is to expand the time limit for international students. Under the pilot, international students only have one year to secure employment to get their permanent resident status. At the same time, employers must complete all the necessary paperwork to allow them to gain this status. This is unrealistic for both parties. Increasing the current one-year application window to three years would make a significant difference in Moncton’s ability to retain international students after they graduate.

Number four is to provide free language training for international students during their studies. Many of these students want to stay. The ability to improve their proficiency in one or both official languages would give them the tools needed to stay in our bilingual city and province.

Number five is on modifications to the Atlantic immigration program to include international students who are enrolled in a one-year diploma program in our community colleges. It is arguably these students who need the most assistance to fast-track their immigration process.

Number six is to provide accelerated and increased federal funding to settlement agencies to ensure that services are in line with new arrivals. We need to ensure a streamlined and efficient funding process to ensure that these agencies have the resources to do their important work.

Finally, number seven is to ensure that all employment opportunities are included under the Atlantic immigration pilot. For example, our hospitality sector has many unfilled support staff positions. Unfortunately, many of these positions do not qualify for the national occupation classification, NOC, skill levels. The pilot should include levels such as the NOC-D positions as well.

In conclusion, the City of Moncton would like to thank you for inviting us to speak today.

Despite the challenges we are facing, we are proud of the successes we’ve had welcoming immigrants. With some policy changes, creative solutions, and increased dialogue between us, we can be even more successful in welcoming immigrants and their families.

Population growth through immigration is essential for the long-term success of our community, and all communities in Canada. For New Brunswick, we need families and workers with diverse skills. We will do everything we can to make it easy for them to live, work, and play in our community.

Thank you very much for your attention.

9 a.m.


The Chair Liberal Rob Oliphant

Thank you very much everyone.

We'll continue with Professor Yoshida and Professor Ramos.

9 a.m.

Dr. Yoko Yoshida Associate Professor, Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology, Dalhousie University, As an Individual

Good morning. Thank you for inviting us to present to this committee.

I'm Yoko Yoshida, associate professor of sociology at Dalhousie University, and this is Howard Ramos, also a professor of sociology at Dalhousie University.

Our presentation this morning is based on the brief we submitted to this committee. We also have additional reports and information you can find on our website, perceptionsofchange.ca.

Today we will offer an overview of our analysis of the longitudinal immigration database, which captures landing records and tax records of immigrants. Our analysis focuses on immigrant tax filers in Atlantic Canadian provinces and compares the Atlantic Canadian immigrants to the national average.

We have several observations to share with you. First, recent economic principal applicants, one year after landing, have a higher rate of employment than the Canadian average in all but one province of Atlantic Canada. For example, nationally, 73% of economic principal applicants had a job one year after landing. That rate was 90% in Newfoundland and Labrador, 76% in Nova Scotia, and 74% in New Brunswick. Prince Edward Island was the only province that had a rate lower than the national average. Likewise, recent economic principal applicants had higher earnings, on average, than the national average in all but one Atlantic Canadian province. P.E.I. was the outlier.

Spouses and partners who come with the economic principal applicants, however, did not fare so well. Compared to the national average of the same category, they had lower rates of employment one year after landing in Canada.

In terms of earnings, the story is rather mixed. In Newfoundland and Labrador, they had higher earnings than the national average. Nova Scotia and New Brunswick had almost the same as the Canadian average, only slightly higher. In Prince Edward Island, the same category of immigrants earned slightly less than the Canadian average.

Based on these findings, and also the fact that the Atlantic immigration pilot and to some degree the express entry system focus on employers playing a role in settlement, we believe that a key to the success of these programs is to tap into the employment potential of the spouses and partners, especially those who follow the principal applicants of the economic stream.

The story is slightly different for recent family-sponsored spouses and partners. They have better employment outcomes in Atlantic Canada compared to the national average. This happens across all the Atlantic provinces. They also have higher earnings than the Canadian national average in the equivalent categories. Prince Edward Island, however, was again a little lower than the national average.

Based on these results, we believe that much more can be done to promote the economic success of immigrants in the Atlantic region. Atlantic provinces need to bust the myths about the economic difficulties immigrants may face in the region. They need to challenge the stereotypes based on the experiences of earlier immigrant cohorts.

Howard has a few more points to share.

9:05 a.m.

Dr. Howard Ramos Professor, Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology, Dalhousie University, As an Individual

We have also observed that most of the trends for immigrants in the region are driven by successes we see in Atlantic Canadian cities rather in than rural areas. Although we didn't, in the report that we submitted, look at urban/rural differences, this is something we've begun to examine in our other research and something that we've been looking at more generally as we've been working on these issues. In the report we submitted, we note that Prince Edward Island is the most rural of the Atlantic Canadian provinces and that immigration to the rural areas is a struggle for recent immigrants. This is something that needs to be considered.

When you look at the cities in the Atlantic region, you see they're doing fairly well. Unemployment rates in places like Moncton are below the national average. In Halifax they are competitive with the national average, and we suspect that employment for immigrants in those cities is going to be better than in rural areas. It's important to recognize that immigrants alone are not going to solve the problems of economy in rural areas. It's important to give immigrants a fair shot in the cities where the economy is working well.

Our demographic analysis of recent immigrant tax filers in Atlantic Canada shows that economic principal applicants are mostly men. The spouses and partners who come in the economic category, as well as family sponsor, are mostly women. We find that except for Prince Edward Island, most people migrating are of working age, and one thing that we see is that Atlantic Canada as a whole has a lower proportion of immigrants arriving with a university education. This is something we find surprising, given the high concentration of universities in the region. We recognize this as a missed opportunity for Atlantic Canadian provinces and for the federal government to promote a transition from university to employment and immigration in the region.

We also believe that the demographics suggest that the region can do more to diversify the intake of immigrants to the region, focusing on issues of gender, family reunification, and in particular on student transitions. We recognize that there are economic obstacles in Atlantic Canada, but we also recognize that, first and foremost, the problems the region is facing are demographic and that the solutions to the economic problems are really about solving the demographic problems. On this front, it's important for the region to try to compete against other regions in Canada and other countries to take advantage of the demographic differences we have in Atlantic Canada, rather than suffer from them.

We also recognize on this front that it's important for Atlantic Canadian provinces to embrace that unique demography and to consider anchoring effects—in other words, demography that leads to anchoring immigrants to the region, demography that promotes staying in the region rather than transitioning into other regions.

Last, we also recognize that it's important for the success of the Atlantic immigration pilot project as well as for immigration in the region more generally to have access to data. One of the obstacles we face as researchers is a lack of available data from Statistics Canada, and this is important in order to benchmark how immigrants are performing in the region. On this front, it's important to make sure that national surveys oversample the region so that we can begin to tweak and not just rely on the administrative data we were able to access because we work with the Province of Nova Scotia. It limits the number of researchers, businesses, and other people who can look at data if it's only accessible through the province or the federal government.

Thank you.

9:10 a.m.


The Chair Liberal Rob Oliphant

Thank you very much.

Mr. Haan, you're our last witness.

9:10 a.m.

Dr. Michael Haan Canada Research Chair in Migration and Ethnic Relations, Department of Sociology, Western University, As an Individual

Good morning, everyone. My name is Michael Haan, and I'm the Canada research chair in migration and ethnic relations at Western University.

My primary research interests are in the areas of immigrant recruitment, retention, and internal migration. I'm particularly interested in studying how research and policy can be used to effect changes in these domains, and I thank you for inviting me here today.

Coming to you today from London, Ontario, I may seem like an outsider to Atlantic Canada, but before I was at Western, I worked at the University of New Brunswick as the Canada research chair in population and social policy. I have worked with all four provincial governments in Atlantic Canada to increase success levels in terms of immigrant recruitment and retention, as have Howard and Yoko.

In preparation for today, I watched a lot of the footage from this committee—not all 77 sessions, but many of them. I'd like to put a finer point on one of the comments made on May 29 by the honourable David Tilson, who is not here today. He recalled high rates of out-migration from when he was studying at the University of New Brunswick, and I agree with him, but please allow me to provide you with a little bit more detail.

In 1951, Atlantic Canada was the heart of the Canadian baby boom, with each province posting fertility rates that ranged from between 4.8 and 5.1 children for every woman aged 15 to 64. Provincial governments at the time were fretting about how they would accommodate such huge population growth. Now, roughly 65 years later, the region occupies the bottom four spots, with fertility rates that range between 1.34 and 1.48 children per woman. Discussions today tend to centre on how the region will cope with population implosion rather than explosion.

Several things happened. What was most notable, however, was that in the 1960s and 1970s, nearly half of that earlier baby boom left the region—half. Forgive the morbid analogies, but that is a greater proportion than died in either World War, and it's approximately on par with the number of people who died from the black plague in the 1300s in Europe.

Most of the people who left Atlantic Canada headed west to capitalize on opportunities in the rest of the country, and capitalize they did. Citing statistics for only New Brunswick, I have found that those who left the province were twice as quick to own a business, three times as likely to have a university degree, and four times as likely to earn more than $100,000 per year than those who stayed. I have no reason to suspect huge differences across Atlantic Canadian provinces. Where did these out-migrants build their successes? I think it was in many of the communities that you and I live in. Although some went back to the Atlantic, most didn't. They built their fortunes in the rest of Canada and they built fortunes for the rest of Canada.

Profound demographic change has, as Mr. Tilson noted, been the norm in Atlantic Canada. Does that then mean that this will always be the case or that we should give up on trying to change the region? I would argue that we should be rooting for Atlantic Canada, because it was the hard work of Atlantic Canadians that helped make the country as prosperous and dynamic as it is today. It just didn't happen in their province of birth as often as it needed to for that region to prosper.

The Atlantic immigration pilot is radical. There is no doubt about it. It removes requirements that continue to apply to the rest of the country. I would say that the question of whether the region should receive special treatment or not is probably misplaced. Instead, we should be asking whether the program is likely to work and whether or not Atlantic Canada should get the first crack at this type of immigration reform. I think, when you consider the demographic duty that the region has done for the country as a whole, it's the least we can do.

Also, aside from the provincial nominee program and parts of the express entry program, this is one of the first major initiatives that allows local labour markets to fill their own shortages. It used to be predominantly the federal government that made the choices about who entered the country, and by and large, they did a good job, but arguably, centralized programs did not necessarily take smaller, shallower labour markets into account as much they could have.

Much like the Atlantic immigration pilot is radical, there are other radical thoughts and experiments that might be worth considering. Please note that, to my knowledge, none of these is currently being contemplated.

First, current taxation rules dictate that individuals must pay taxes in the province in which they reside on December 31st of the taxation year. What this does is encourage people to move from high-tax provinces like those of Atlantic Canada to low-tax provinces like those in western Canada.

There's another way to think about taxation: to allow people to pay the marginal tax rate of the province where they perform the majority of their work. If, for most of the year, an individual flies to Alberta for a 21-day shift, then heads back to Cape Breton, couldn't they pay Alberta income tax rates in Nova Scotia?

True, the Nova Scotia government wouldn't get quite as much money as they would under their own tax regime, but it's a lot more money than the zero they'd get when the individual decides to go to a lower tax area.

Second, perhaps we need to think about retention more broadly. I understand that the pilot is focused on keeping newcomers in Atlantic Canada, but let's suppose that it doesn't work very well and that some people move elsewhere after a few years. Is this necessarily such a bad thing? As someone who has lived all over Canada, I can say with certainty that they'd be starting out in one of the kindest, most welcoming regions in Canada and that this would position them well if they chose to go elsewhere. That may increase national retention rates, even if it doesn't necessarily affect the provincial or regional rate.

If, conversely, the pilot works perfectly and does exactly what it's supposed to, then great. Package up the best pieces and use them in other parts of the country that are struggling with population decline. Neither of these outcomes seems negative to me.

The key to the success of the pilot, in my opinion, is that administrators espouse a “what works” strategy as much as possible. If the removal of work experience does not increase retention, for example, abolish or tweak those provisions. If students don't stay in the region after graduation, then reconsider including them as part of the pilot. We have the data and we can test these things.

Central to this is having an evaluative framework that is both nimble and non-partisan. The United Nations expects us to reach global peak population by about 2025. What this means is that the surplus of people from other countries will come to an end. That is only eight years from now. After that, expect the recruitment and retention of immigrants to become far more competitive on a global basis. The time to get it right is now, and I think we should be running at least one experiment like the Atlantic pilot at all times.

Thank you.

9:15 a.m.


The Chair Liberal Rob Oliphant

Thank you very much. Did Mr. Whalen write your remarks? I'm just kidding.

9:15 a.m.


Nick Whalen Liberal St. John's East, NL

I will say thank you, Mr. Chair.

I'd like to thank everyone for coming today and providing the final recommendations and information to the committee. It fully reiterates in many respects what we've heard all along, but I will add that some of Mr. Haan's comments are new. I would endorse them entirely, except perhaps some of the tax stuff.

The morbid tale also continues, and I just want to add a little bit of additional information, focused on one generation.

From 1992 until 2017 tells a slightly different tale, and you can see this information from StatsCan. The national population was 28 million; Newfoundland's population was 580,000; Prince Edward Island's population was 136,000; Nova Scotia's population rounds up to 920,000; and New Brunswick's population was 748,000.

Between then and July 1 of this year, 2017, the national population grew to 36.7 million, by 31%. Newfoundland's has fallen to 528,000, down 10%; Prince Edward Island—even though Dr. Ramos said that it was the most rural of the Atlantic provinces, I'm sure the people in Prince Edward Island disagree, because almost all of them live within 30 kilometres of Charlottetown or Summerside—posted fairly reasonable growth in our area, up to 152,000. It was flat in Nova Scotia, at 953,000 and flat in New Brunswick at 759,000.

Over the last generation, this has been a problem. Newfoundland has suffered the collapse that everyone else is looking at. We suffered the collapse because of the cod moratorium. Now we're suffering an eco-crash, but the demographics are clear. Now that births under-count deaths, it's something that's going to happen.

It's not just in Atlantic Canada; it's happening all over the world. Eastern Europe—our delegation just came back from Sofia, Bulgaria, and yesterday we met with the Croatian delegation—is also suffering from exactly the same migration trends that Atlantic Canada is suffering from. It's a worldwide problem, and I fully endorse Mr. Haan's comments about the competitive nature of seeking out highly qualified and skilled labour, because as we start to do this now, it will be Germany looking for those immigrants in 10 years, because they will not be able to get any more from Bulgaria.

There was a very interesting paper published this past month by Alvin Simms and Jamie Ward of the Harris Centre regional analytics laboratory, “Regional Population Projections for Newfoundland and Labrador 2016 to 2036”. They take a look at lots of different measures, and they include all the labour-related endorsements that try to fill the labour positions as they're available under all different scenarios. Even under the highest labour replacement scenarios, which is a large driver for immigration, Newfoundland and Labrador still loses 4% of its population over the next 20 years, but anyone who takes a realistic view of it sees that we lose 10% or more of our population. It's another collapse.

In order for us to maintain our standards of living, this is an imperative, so I ask all the witnesses, given that we've now had 25 years of stagnant or falling growth, what can we do differently? Could the Atlantic immigration pilot be the silver bullet to help us? Is it something we should do?

I'll start with Mr. Haan.

9:20 a.m.

Canada Research Chair in Migration and Ethnic Relations, Department of Sociology, Western University, As an Individual

Dr. Michael Haan

Thank you for your comments.

I think the short story is that there is no silver bullet. We probably have to try various strategies to bring people to the region and to bring people back to the region. No matter what, under all projection scenarios by Statistics Canada, there will need to be some economic restructuring, and I think all four Atlantic provinces are going to have to have very serious discussions about what this will mean moving forward.

The Atlantic immigration pilot is at best a partial solution. There will be change while it is under way. In terms of doing things differently, I think I would go back to my concluding comment that the whole framework needs to be incredibly nimble so that precious time is not lost if something is found to not be effective.

9:20 a.m.


Nick Whalen Liberal St. John's East, NL

Dr. Yoshida, would you comment?

9:20 a.m.

Associate Professor, Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology, Dalhousie University, As an Individual

Dr. Yoko Yoshida

Adding to that, my position is to look into the family settlement of immigrants as a unit of family. When you come to Nova Scotia and Canada all together, just because one person is working and settled in a labour market really doesn't hold those people in the region. I think that immigrants' decision-making is based on household well-being rather than individual well-being.

When the local economy is not as competitive as other markets, perhaps until the market becomes competitive enough, diversifying the portfolio of immigrant streams could be a way to go. Rather than focusing solely on the high-flying, highly skilled, talented people, perhaps you should look into people who are likely to stay in the region as a family or as a neighbour and start building society at the same time as you are developing the economy so that it becomes a more competitive market relative to others.

Essentially, look into family settlements and providing help for spouses and partners with employment opportunities, etc.

9:20 a.m.


Nick Whalen Liberal St. John's East, NL

Thank you very much, Dr. Yoshida.

Maybe that will get me on a different tack. I have some questions for the folks from J.D. Irving. I'm a big proponent of targets based on retention rates for immigration so that the Atlantic region would equitably benefit from immigration by having a higher number. That might also help accommodate the establishment of cultural communities that will welcome further industries and further immigrants, but then I also wonder about labour demand.

To the folks from J.D. Irving, how much labour demand do you feel we have in our region so that we can realistically accommodate 1% or 2% immigration growth? At the same time, if we don't fill the positions you've identified as already needing to be filled by immigration, what happens to your business if you can't fill these spots?

Thank you.

9:20 a.m.

Director, Human Resources, Sawmills and Woodlands Division, J.D. Irving, Limited

Susan Wilson

To answer the first question, the labour demand is a clear gap today. In other businesses in J.D. Irving, we have examples today, to answer the second part of your question, of having to cut back on some of our production shifts because we do not have the labour in the facilities to meet all the demands of our customers. It is live; it is today.

For the foreseeable future, based on the numbers shared earlier, we do not see an issue with placing people, and I would broaden that to the earlier comments around broader placement of members of the family. We have such a variety of gaps in different functions, including, as we talked about earlier, from IT down to the manufacturing jobs on the floor, that I think there is a huge opportunity to address the needs of the entire family.

9:20 a.m.


Nick Whalen Liberal St. John's East, NL

Thank you for your input.

9:20 a.m.


The Chair Liberal Rob Oliphant

Mr. Maguire is next.

9:20 a.m.


Larry Maguire Conservative Brandon—Souris, MB

First of all, I want to thank all the panellists for the presentations they've made. It's been very informative. Thanks very much.

To the Irving Limited folks here, in regard to creating employment, we've had presentations to the committee, even in the short while that I've been on it, indicating that job creation comes from capital investment. Dr. Emery mentioned that a couple of days ago here in our committee as well.

Can you indicate to our committee here your thoughts with regard to job creation? I know you've done a lot of it with your investments, and not just in the refining industry but in other sectors as well. The recent decision to cancel the energy east pipeline is detrimental to the development of the Maritimes as well as to the processing and manufacturing of our own Canadian product here. I wonder if you can indicate to us your thoughts in regard to that lack of capital investment that's going to occur in eastern Canada because of that cancellation, and how that's going to impact job creation in the Maritimes and therefore the need for more immigration.

9:25 a.m.

Director, Talent Acquisition, J.D. Irving, Limited

Jeffrey Green

Certainly capital investment is an important factor. In particular, in our workforce forecast we look at not only attrition and retirements but at what's driving growth. Almost a quarter of our forecast is forecasted around growth. Capital investment and those sorts of things in the region, in each province, are an important factor for sure.

9:25 a.m.


Larry Maguire Conservative Brandon—Souris, MB

The taxation decisions that the government has made lately on corporations and different parts of your industry as well are not going to help development in many areas, and not just in the Maritimes but across the country.

I'm from Manitoba, but having spent a limited amount of time in the Maritimes, I have to agree with your other panellists that it's a tremendous part of Canada and a great place to live and be. However, if we continue to go down the road of increasing taxation on corporations and family businesses, can you just elaborate on your thoughts as to how we could enhance bringing people in through a taxation process rather than just increasing taxes on these types of companies?

9:25 a.m.

Director, Talent Acquisition, J.D. Irving, Limited

Jeffrey Green

Certainly that has the potential to be an impact on attracting people to the Atlantic Canadian region and retaining them. I don't know if I can speak specifically on some of the policies and those sorts of things, but I would say in general that the tax issue has to be addressed, especially if we're going to continue to attract and retain new people, new immigrants, in Atlantic Canada.

9:25 a.m.


Larry Maguire Conservative Brandon—Souris, MB

I'd like to direct a question to Mr. Leger as well in regard to your points about retention. Of the seven that you mentioned, what do you think are the key ones if you had one or two that you would like to see implemented?