TRIEC submitted the below to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs in January 2018.
Immigrants bring skills, innovation, new perspectives, and international business knowledge to Ontario. They are vital to the economic growth and ongoing prosperity of our province. As the Institute for Competitiveness and Prosperity said, we cannot afford to leave any productive citizens on the sidelines. Yet that is the reality.
If immigrants and new Ontario citizens were in jobs and careers aligned with their skills and experience, in a similar way to Canadian-born workers, the increase in their incomes would be up to $15.2 billion – or the equivalent of 2 per cent of Ontario’s gross domestic product. Put another way, that’s the combined contributions of the agriculture, mining and oil and gas industries to Ontario’s GDP in 2016.
The economic imperative is clear. When immigrants and new Canadians are able to improve their economic security, this will lead to more jobs, higher tax revenue, more spending and a more prosperous province for all of us.
We need to build on successful settlement initiatives, like Bridging programs, to offer successful ways of welcoming newcomers into Ontario’s communities, and integrating them into all of its workplaces so they can contribute to the economy more effectively.
Ontario, supported by the federal government, invests significantly in helping immigrants integrate into Ontario. Last year, the Ontario Expenditure Estimates indicate that transfer payments for settlement and integration programs were $137 million.
These expenditures include a range of settlement and integration programs –highly valuable interventions–which have helped countless immigrants make new lives for themselves in Canada over the years.
But we need to do more. With growing numbers of immigrant professionals coming to Ontario and a record 6,600 new immigrants coming through the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program, we need to increase opportunities for rapid integration into the labour market using proven solutions. Ontario needs to maximize the benefit of this immigrant talent, which could be contributing much more substantially to the economy.
At present, $3.6 million is invested in mentoring programs for immigrants across Ontario.
The Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC), and its partners recommend that this be increased to $9.6 million a year, by 2020-21, to allow for the expansion of established, successful mentoring programs for immigrant professionals. This would mean TRIEC and its partners would serve 6,750 new immigrants in this program, up from the current 2,000.
Mentoring programs deliver measurable results: mentoring is a proven, effective way of improving employment outcomes for immigrants; helping newcomers find jobs in their field while also helping Canadian businesses benefit from having more diverse, productive teams.
Mentoring programs will become even more important as Ontario’s Immigrant Nominee Program grows.
How it works
Delivered in collaboration with established immigration and settlement agencies, mentoring programs match an immigrant with a mentor in their field of expertise or occupation. In TRIEC’s program, these pairs spend about 18 hours together over three months.
The mentor helps their mentee understand Canadian workplace culture and how the job search works in Canada. Most importantly, the mentor must connect the mentee with at least five other people in their professional network. When 70% of jobs are not advertised, the creation of a network is essential to job search success.
The results of the existing TRIEC program are outstanding:
- 75% of mentees matched through TRIEC Mentoring Partnership find employment in their field within 12 months of completing the program.
- Full-time annual earnings of immigrants increase on average by 62%.
TRIEC also works hard to ensure women have mentoring opportunities. Last year, 57% of our mentees were women, a proportion that is growing.
A benefit for Ontario employers
TRIEC Mentoring Partnership changes the mentor too—87% of mentors tell us that they are more likely to hire a skilled immigrant after participating in the program. So businesses and employers become much more aware of immigrant talent and more diverse as a result – leading to increases in inclusion, productivity, innovation, and connections to new global markets.
Last but not least, mentoring improves Ontario’s bottom line:
- A recent study by the Boston Consulting Group showed that the social return on investment for the program is very high. For every $1 invested in the program, there is a return of $10.50 in benefits to Canada.
The recommended increase of $5.6 million a year (bringing the total mentoring budget to $9.6 million by 2020-21) would allow TRIEC and its partners to offer 6,750 mentoring partnerships each year, in communities across Ontario. This would provide a life-changing opportunity for almost one-third of Ontario’s economic class immigrants, helping them to contribute to their fullest potential, and leading to better lives for them and their families.
Immigrant professionals have made the choice to come to Ontario and contribute to our province. Let’s make sure they have the best opportunity for success. If Ontario’s immigrant professionals succeed, everyone prospers. The success of immigrants leads to a fairer, more prosperous province that every Ontarian can be proud to call home.
 TRIEC’s partners include London-based Immploy Ottawa Community Immigrant Services Organization and Niagara Region Immigrant Employment Council.
 Institute for Competitiveness and Prosperity, Immigration in Ontario. Achieving the best outcomes for newcomers and the economy. 2017.
 Government of Ontario Expenditure Estimates, 2016-17, Transfer Payments of the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration( https://www.ontario.ca/page/expenditure-estimates-ministry-citizenship-and-immigration-2017-18#section-2)
Some startling indicators:
38% of immigrants to Canada have a university degree, compared to 24% of people born here, and half of all people in Canada who have a PhD are immigrants. [Source: the Conference Board of Canada – http://www.conferenceboard.ca/conf/images/immigration/immigration_marketgap_infographic.jpg]
Only 3% of immigrants who were working in professional occupations before coming to Toronto were still working in their field after landing. [Source: http://www.wellesleyinstitute.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Shadow-Economies-FINAL.pdf]
Immigrants in Ontario face a 4.6% point difference in the employment rate compared to their Canadian-born counterparts. [Source: Institute for Competitiveness and Prosperity – https://www.competeprosper.ca/uploads/2017_Immigration_in_Ontario_Achieving_best_outcomes_Highlights.pdf]
Immigrants in Ontario earn 15.7% lower wages than people born in Canada. [Source: Institute for Competitiveness and Prosperity – https://www.competeprosper.ca/uploads/2017_Immigration_in_Ontario_Achieving_best_outcomes_Highlights.pdf]
It’s worse for women. A 2015 study found that 48.7% of immigrant women with a bachelor’s degree or higher were employed in positions that do not typically require a degree, compared to both Canadian born women (30%) and immigrant men (41%) [Source: Statistics Canada – http://www.statcan.gc.ca/daily-quotidien/151021/dq151021a-eng.htm]