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Business Leaders Roundtable on Immigration
Business Leaders Roundtable on Immigration
Inaugural Meeting May 24, ask 2007


Post Meeting Synopsis of the Issues
  Immigration—Mission Critical

 Immigration is one of the great issues of the day in Canada.  Canada’s competitiveness and growth depends on how effectively business, education, government and community organizations deal with this issue.  The Conference Board of Canada’s national forecast predicts that Canada’s economic potential—our ability to attract investment capital, generate wealth and pay for health care and education—will be seriously constrained if we are not able to attract, retain and effectively deploy up to 350,000 immigrants annually during the next decade. Unemployment is already running well below the natural rate of six per cent in many parts of the country and tight labour markets are driving wage levels above the rate of inflation.  In export-intensive industries, the ninety-two-cent dollar is making our goods and services very expensive on the international market.  These are alarming trends and the situation is not sustainable. But in the rush to find solutions that involve governments taking action, one principle must remain front and centre: Immigration is a business issue.  And there is a lot that Canadian businesses can do to help themselves tap immigrant talent and improve their business performance.  This is not only something Canadian employers can do; it is something they must do.  Immigration is mission critical for Canadian firms. 

New Canadians currently make up seventy per cent of labour force growth.  By 2011, they will account for all of the net growth in our workforce.  Canadian business is counting on immigration to meet its future skills and labour demands.  Canadian business leaders have an unparalleled opportunity to act now to drive change and leverage immigration to achieve their global business objectives.

 The World in Canada 

Yesterday, on Thursday, the 24th of May, 2007, twenty Canadian business leaders met at the Conference Board of Canada’s offices to grapple with immigration and the central role it will play in helping Canadian businesses remain competitive in the 21st Century.  The theme of our meeting was The World in Canada: How Immigration Is Fundamental to Our Future Prosperity and Your Business Success.  Our forward-looking business leaders—yourself among them—shared stories and insights to help the Conference Board set the agenda for its brand new Centre on Immigration Issues, which will:


·         Improve outcomes for Canadian businesses through higher level strategic management of the potential contribution of immigrants to business performance and the bottom line;

·         Engage business leaders in making the required investments to drive this performance; and

·         Create a team of committed and creative leaders willing to take on the issues, champion change in corporate practices, programs and behaviour, and fully support immigrant integration to the workforce and community.


What We Heard from Business Leaders

Employers need to source immigrant talent to staff current operations and to sustain growth going forward.  And Canadian firms are making progress on this front.  We heard about how large companies are reaching out to small businesses in their supply chains operated by new Canadians.  We heard about the effort of firms to have staff at all levels who are reflective of the communities they serve.  We heard about the commitment of firms to providing new Canadians with work experience and supporting them through coaching and mentoring and involvement in bridging programs.


Not surprisingly we heard from business about the business imperative of hiring new Canadians and recruiting foreign workers to meet critical labour shortages.  But we heard something much more engaging from business.  We heard about the importance of “doing the right thing” and doing things the “right way”.  We heard about “honouring” the people we invite to Canada and of taking responsibility for ensuring that the reality they experience in Canada matches the expectations we raise in them when we promote Canada abroad.  We heard about the importance of maintaining trust and communicating clearly so potential foreign workers and immigrants can make informed decisions and choose Canada as a place to work and build a better future for themselves and their families.


Business understands that leveraging the talents of new Canadians in high-value-added, productive jobs requires investment in literacy skills and language training and orientation to Canadian work culture as well as commitment to creating respectful, inclusive work environments with equal opportunities for promotion for people from diverse backgrounds.  Successfully integrating new Canadians also requires support for settling families in communities and schools and tapping the talents of second wage earners.  Finally, business appreciates the importance of recognizing international work experience, and of supporting new Canadians as they go through the process of having credentials they earned elsewhere recognized in Canada or of gaining Canadian certification for their knowledge, skills and abilities.


Champions Wanted—What We Are Asking of Business

The Conference Board is seeking corporate champions to invest in the Business Leaders Roundtable on Immigration – champions who are prepared to take a leadership role in making immigration work for business.  We believe there is a strong role for business to take in finding and implementing solutions to our immigration challenges.


The Conference Board needs Canadian business leaders to come to the table.




For more information:


Diana MacKay                                                            Kurtis Kitagawa

Associate Director, Education and Learning              Principal Research Associate

Tel. 613-526-3090 x.410                                             Tel. 613-526-3090 x.257

This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it                                      This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it

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