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Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters on Immigration Plan: Increase Welcomed But Insufficient to Meet Manufacturing Workforce Needs

OTTAWA, ON, Oct. 30, 2020 – Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME) applauds the increase to Canada’s immigration targets which is poised to bring in 401,000 immigrants next year.

However, the CME is warning that Canada’s 2021 immigration plan, tabled today by Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino, is insufficient to meet the country’s significant workforce needs, particularly in the manufacturing sector.

The plan’s objectives are too modest and will not allow the country to catch up quickly enough over the next months to compensate for the reduced number of admissions made this year amid strict travel restrictions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Manufacturers are increasingly using immigration to supplement their workforce but there are not enough immigrants to meet the demand,” says Dennis Darby, President and CEO of CME.

“Temporary worker programs are becoming increasingly burdensome and costly to use. If manufacturing is to be at the core of the economic recovery following the COVID-19 crisis, we must do more in prioritizing immigration from the economic stream and ensure that it tries to fill current labour market gaps,” he says. “This can be done by better aligning the immigration points system to employer needs which have only increased as a result of the current recession.”

CME is calling for an increase in economic immigrants to 500,000 a year by 2025, and points to unsolved obstacles faced by manufacturers looking to increase their workforce.

“Another element of our proposed solution involves the expansion of the Provincial Nominee Program. We thank the government for moving on this today, but we need to be more ambitious by doubling current thresholds to allow more immigration through this stream,” says Darby. “We’ve also been suggesting enhancing the Temporary Foreign Worker program to bridge manufacturers by removing the 10 per cent limit per plant for foreign workers coming through the TFW program.”

Previously set targets were aiming to bring in 341,000 immigrants this year, 351,000 next year and another 361,000 in 2022.

“While this is a positive trajectory and we’re glad to see the government further increase these goals today, notably in terms of the economic class numbers, it is still inadequate to fill current labour shortages,” notes Darby. “Even before the pandemic, we’ve seen the share of economic class immigrants continue to decline as a percentage of the overall totals and in real numbers. This undermines the efficacy of the system for employers to fill their labour needs.”

About Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters

Since 1871, Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters has been helping manufacturers grow at home and, compete around the world. Our focus is to ensure manufacturers are recognized as engines for growth in the economy, with Canada acknowledged as both a global leader and innovator in advanced manufacturing and a global leader in exporting. CME is a member-driven association that directly represents more than 2,500 leading companies who account for an estimated 82 per cent of manufacturing output and 90 per cent of Canada’s exports.

For more information

Ady Stefan Calin
Manager, Communications & Branding
Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters
(514) 293-3765
ady.calin@cme-mec.ca