Kent County immigrants get helping hand to join workforce

As the Imperial Manufacturing Group in Richibucto prepares to welcome employees from the Philippines, the Multicultural Association of Greater Moncton Area gets ready to help them feel at home.

Program helps attract entire family to the community, not just individual workers

Chantal Poirier is the executive director of the Multicultural Association of Greater Moncton Area. She says helping make newcomers feel at home is key. (Radio Canada)

The Imperial Manufacturing Group in Richibucto is hiring up to 25 people from the Philippines to help fill its workforce.

It's something the heating and ventilation company has tried in the past, but this time the company is taking a new approach.

Instead of just bringing in workers, the company is trying to bring their families as well to the community, said Andrée Caissie Savoie, vice-president of customer experience and corporate affairs.

"We're hoping that by doing so, that we'll have a higher success rate in terms of retainment — not only for the company but for the community as well," said Caissie Savoie.

"There's a huge incentive in growing your population and your citizenship within that community."

Caissie Savoie said the company is still trying to hire locally, but demographics in Richibucto have changed.

We want to keep our businesses thriving in our area.- Paul Lang, Kent Regional Services Commission

"You have younger population that's now exiting the area and you've got a lot of older people that are not necessarily still of working age, or they're all in retirement and are not able or willing to work here," she said.

"And for us to be able to sustain our business here in Richibucto and not necessarily move work elsewhere, either inside the province or outside the province for that matter, it's very important for us to be able to bring people in."

The company will be taking advantage of a new satellite office of the Multicultural Association of Greater Moncton Area being set up in Kent County.

Chantal Poirier, the executive director of the association, said the idea started with the Atlantic immigration pilot program.

Newcomers help grow economy

After being approached by the Imperial Manufacturing Group, the idea to set up a satellite office for the whole area took shape.

Poirier said it's not difficult to attract newcomers, but retention is key.

This means making sure the families feel at home.

"If dad comes over for employment in whatever region in New Brunswick or in the Atlantic provinces and mom and the children are not taken care of, you know, the sense of being alone and isolated eventually — they'll move on because they want what's best for their families.

"So what we offer is — yes, we'll offer support to the person who's employed, but we also offer that support to the rest of the families," she said.

That includes everything from helping the family purchase winter jackets to registering children for school and helping families fill out paperwork.

Paul Lang of the Kent Regional Services Commission has high hopes for the program.

Paul Lang is with the Kent Regional Services Commission. He says newcomers are vital to help grow the local economy. (Submitted)

"There has been working immigrants for, I would say, 15, 20 years but they come in, they work six months and then they go back home," Lang said. "So this is fairly new to us.

"It's not new to New Brunswick or the rest of the country, especially in urban areas, but for Kent it is new because we didn't have settlement services before."

He said newcomers are vital to help grow the local economy.

"We want to keep our businesses thriving in our area. We need people to work, so having people coming in from abroad and settling here, it will help our economy and our businesses to continue offering good jobs."

The satellite office officially opens on Nov. 8.

But one full-time and one part-time staff are already on the job.

Poirier said the organization will be looking for volunteers from Kent County to help the program run smoothly.

"We'd kind of like to reach out to the communities in Kent County and let people know that we do have a volunteer training available," she said.

"We do orientation training and cross cultural training as well and there's a huge need for family connections and volunteers."