Kitchener-Waterloo

There's an increase of newcomers to Waterloo region to help with labour gaps

The Region of Waterloo has seen a significant rise in new permanent residents in 2021 and 2022, which the federal government said will help to fill gaps in the labour market.

Influx is a nationwide trend, breaking records

Sean Fraser is the federal minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). The federal government broke records in 2022 for the number of new permanent residents nationwide. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

The Region of Waterloo has seen a significant rise in new permanent residents in recent years, which the federal government said will help to fill gaps in the labour market. 

Data provided to CBC News by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) shows that the region saw 7,360 new permanent residents in 2022, and 8,875 in 2021. The average of new permanent residents in the six years prior is 3,502.5 per year, which is less than half of 2021 and 2022.

"Across Canada, admissions in 2021 and 2022 exceeded admissions from the pre-pandemic years of 2018 and 2019, and greatly exceeded admissions during COVID-affected 2020," Jeffrey MacDonald, a spokesperson for IRCC, said in an email to CBC News. 

"Put simply, increased immigration means more people in Canada participating in our workforce, contributing to our social programs and growing our communities," he added.

A press release by IRCC published earlier this month indicates that in 2022, nationwide, there were 431,645 new permanent residents, which the federal government is called "historic," breaking the Canadian record for newcomers of this kind. 

IRCC suggested that this trend will continue over the next 10 years. 

"Significant increases locally or provincially are generally in line with significant increases nationally … Immigration accounts for almost 100 per cent of labour force growth, and by 2032, it is projected to account for 100 per cent of population growth," MacDonald said.

"Immigrants support economic growth and help employers meet their labour needs."

The Region of Waterloo saw 7,360 new permanent residents in 2022. (Brian St. Denis/CBC)

Enough local support for newcomers?

The manager of immigrant services for YMCA of Three Rivers, Katherine Peterson, has noticed the influx in newcomers. The YMCA offer support for newcomers in this region.

"Not only permanent residents," Peterson told CBC News. "We do see immigration categories of all types, but we, too, have seen that trend."

Despite that, Peterson said they're managing to keep up with demand.

"[Waterloo region has] a long history of serving and receiving new arrivals to our communities and I think what we look at the [YMCA] is that we do have many community partners that we work with to address the higher volume and the higher demand on services," Peterson said.

"So we might not always be the best provider to meet a need, so that's when we look to the community and based upon our connections that we've made, the referral network that we've built, we work with our partners to make sure that newcomers are getting the support that they need."

Peterson said that YMCA of Three Rivers offers newcomers a variety of services including language and employment services and help with day-to-day things like obtaining government identification or enrolling children in school. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

James Chaarani is a reporter for CBC Kitchener-Waterloo and London. You can reach him at james.chaarani@cbc.ca.

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