April 21, 2009

Lisa van Kolfschoten

Taofeeq Olatinwo has lived in Canada for three years and not once did he give up hope of finding the job that best matched his skills.

Now the Manager of Business Integration and Architecture for Enbridge, Olatinwo praises his Mentoring Partnership Program and his mentor Malcolm Barrington of Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC).

“Malcolm gave me a lot of confidence, let me know what I should expect and told me I shouldn’t aim for anything lower than what I had already been doing. This helped me focus my energy and he always kept encouraging me,” Olatinwo says, adding that “the mentorship program is great –skilled immigrants need a coach to integrate into the community and society.”

TCHC is one of 25 Canadian organizations recognized in 2009 as the Best Employers for New Canadians. Now in its third year, the competition is run by the editors of Mediacorp in partnership with the Maytree Foundation and the McConnell Family Foundation. And, it is an extension of Mediacorp’s annual competition for Canada’s Top 100 Employers.

Winners were selected from 150 shortlisted companies based on the following criteria:

  • Do they offer programs specifically designed to assist employees who are recent immigrants to Canada.
  • Have they taken steps to reduce employment barriers for recent immigrants, such as by recognizing foreign educational credientials and experience.
  • Do they assist new employees who have foreign professional or educational credentials in getting these qualifications formally recognized in Canada.
  • Do they offer “onboarding” programs, such as internal coaching or mentoring, to help new employees who are recent immigrants understand the Canadian workplace.
  • Do their managers and employees receive training in cross-cultural issues or inclusiveness to help create a welcoming and productive environment for employees who are recent immigrants.

TCHC is one of many companies involved in the Mentoring Partnership Program, run by TRIEC – Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council, which aims to help newcomers make connections in the corporate world. TCHC has been involved in the program since 2007 and the number of mentors has increased each year, currently at 39.

Barrington, the Operating Unit Manager for Etobicoke South High Park, has been a mentor with TCHC for two years and offered Olatinwo guidance, advice, and most of all continued support and encouragement when he needed it most. He’s pleased with what TCHC offers its mentees.

“The mentorship program gives us the opportunity to show our strength and creativity, in the sense that it shows how strong an organization we are in terms of how we deliver our service to our clients, our diverse workforce, and one of the things we pride ourselves on is that we offer translation in [about] 18 languages.” Barrington notes that “as a new immigrant to Canada you don’t have to feel left out because you speak [another language]. [We] still recognize they’re a valued part of the community.”

Another beacon in the night is St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto. Sylvia Halliday, Vice President of Human Resources speaks of three key programs for new Canadian Immigrants that she believes set the hospital apart. This includes job shadowing, mentoring and work placements through the Care Centre for Internationally-Trained Nurses, its relationship with Career Bridge, a not-for-profit organization that refers skilled and highly-trained immigrants for internship positions, and its mentorship program.

“I think it’s the scope of the different things that we do that makes us unique,” Halliday says, adding “we’re very honoured to be recognized and yet we feel we’re just doing the right thing.”

Best Employers for New Canadians for 2009

Bank of Montreal
Bell Aliant Regional Communications, LP
Business Development Bank of Canada
CAE Inc.
Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce / CIBC
Christie Digital Systems Canada, Inc.
Deloitte & Touche LLP
Energy Resources Conservation Board
Focus Corporation Ltd., The
Fraser Milner Casgrain LLP
Halton, The Regional Municipality of
Manulife Financial Corporation
Maple Trade Finance Inc.
MDS Nordion Inc.
Nexen Inc.
Providence Health Care
Rescan Environmental Services Ltd.
SaskEnergy Incorporated
St. Michael’s Hospital
TD Bank Financial Group
Toronto Community Housing Corporation
TransCanada Corporation
Vancouver Coastal Health Authority
Wardrop Engineering Inc.