Ottawa

New Canadians may help Ottawa labour crunch

An Ottawa agency that helps skilled immigrants find work in the city celebrated a milestone Wednesday — helping its 1,000th new Canadian find a job.
Barra Thiom found a job two years after moving to Canada from Senegal. (CBC)

An Ottawa agency that helps skilled immigrants find work in the city celebrated a milestone Wednesday — helping its 1,000th new Canadian find a job.

But while Hire Immigrants Ottawa celebrates, both new Canadians and local business executives say there is more work to be done.

Rosemarie Leclair, President and CEO of Hydro Ottawa, said the city will face a labour crunch in the coming years as "baby boomers" retire.

"Some 344,000 people will reach the age of 65," Leclair said.

Hiring new Canadians may help ease the labour shortage.

Still, many skilled immigrants like Barra Thiom, who came to Canada from Senegal 17 years ago, have a difficult time finding work.

"At the beginning I thought it would be easy to find a job in Canada because when you see the statistics of Canada, unemployment is so low," Thiom said.

"So in my mind I say 'Oh my God, that's a country of opportunity.'"

The biggest adjustment, Thiom said, was "understanding the way" business is done in Canada, and how it differed from his previous jobs in Africa.

In the end, it took Thiom two years to land his current job at the Vanier Community Service Centre.

His workplace has 50 other employees, about half of whom are also skilled immigrants.

New Canadians benefit workplace: executive

Francois Baril, a partner at the Gowlings law firm who sits on the service centre's board, said hiring new Canadians has strengthened his workplace.

"Our employees reflect the changing face of the community that we are mandated to serve," Baril said.

Hire Immigrants Ottawa is calling on more organizations to make greater efforts to employ and advance the careers of new Canadians.

And Thiom said skilled immigrants have work to do as well.

"It is important in Canada to have a network to find a job," Thiom said. "If you don't know anybody, you're not going get a job. Don't stay at home."

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