Conference Board of Canada says immigration a key factor in filling Moose Jaw’s growing labour market needs

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Moose Jaw, like many cities across Saskatchewan, has growing labour market needs. 

One of the ways to fill those gaps is through immigration.

Iain Reeve, an associate director for immigration research at the Conference Board of Canada, spoke at a conference held last week in Moose Jaw.

“There are businesses that want to grow and particularly in Saskatchewan, unemployment is very low. A lot of people are leaving the workforce because they’re getting older, they’re retiring and we need other people to take on those jobs,” he commented. “If businesses want to grow, if communities want to flourish, if they want to have growing businesses, growing economies, more products and services, then they need to attract people to take on those jobs and immigration in Canada remains the best way to bring people to take on those jobs.”

Reeve says smaller cities are seeing growth in the number of immigrants they are able to attract.

“It’s important to remember, that not everybody wants to live in the big city. They end up in places Toronto and Vancouver because they feel like that’s where they have to go in order to find economic opportunities, in order to find the services that they need for them and their family but if communities can help let immigrants know that there are economic opportunities here for you today, but also for the future, you’ll be able to have a whole career and progression here…It just takes communities coming together and making sure that they can express the economic opportunities and tell newcomers that this is going to be a great place to live, a place that’s welcoming. A place that immigrants can have a good life in.”

He says schools like Sask Polytech are doing a good job of teaching immigrants the skills that they need to work in jobs that are available in place like Moose Jaw.

“They’re doing their part by bringing international students. By giving them relevant skills and experience and probably even helping them to find work in the community so they can start to have some Canadian work experience that may be helpful to them and they’re helping them to build personal networks and professional networks and learn more about the sectors that they would like to eventually work in.”

Reeve says we need governments to create more clear and faster pathways for international students, adding most students are graduating and hitting this barrier of reality of how hard it is to immigrate to Canada, if they’re even successful at all, which very few of them are.

He adds there are massive benefits to local employers who hire immigrants, noting that an increasingly large percentage of our ready and able workforce is going to be composed of immigrants.

“Saskatchewan could bring in more people and probably be successful. The economy is strong and it’s growing. The need for employment is actually going to be growing even stronger than in many of the other provinces. The opportunity is there,” concluded Reeve.

The Conference Board of Canada is one of Canada’s largest non-profit, non-partisan research institutes. The organization’s purpose is to provide research insights to help decision-makers make more informed decisions through impartial, high-quality research evidence. 

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