New federal immigration program a plus for P.E.I., say municipalities, industry

Those who would like to see an end to labour shortages on P.E.I. are applauding the federal government for moving on a new immigration program that could help alleviate some of the stress. 

New program would allow municipalities to pick newcomers based on labour needs

Over the last decade, 75 per cent of Canada's population growth has come from immigration, according to data provided by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. (CBC)

Those who would like to see an end to labour shortages on P.E.I. are applauding the federal government for moving on a new immigration program that could help alleviate some of the stress.

The Liberal government plans to bring in a program that would allow municipalities to choose immigrants who would help fill labour shortages. It was an election promise.

Now the prime minister has told federal Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino to begin work on the program.

According to the mandate letter given to the minister, at least 5,000 new spaces will be created across the country, by giving local communities, chambers of commerce and labour councils a say in the selection of the individuals based on local labour needs. 

Charlottetown chamber on board

There aren't many details available yet about how the program will work, but the idea is one that has Gerard Adams excited.

The interim CEO for the Charlottetown Chamber of Commerce said he hears from members often about problems finding workers on the Island, and believes those on the ground should be involved in the decisions.

Gerard Adams, interim CEO of the Charlottetown Chamber of Commerce, says he hopes the program will help members find skilled workers. (Natalia Goodwin/CBC)

"Almost all of our members are in one way, shape or form looking for assistance on the labour shortage side. It's more of a mismatch than a labour shortage — that we have skills but they may not be the right skills," he said.

"This program, I think, will certainly help local people identify exactly what the specific needs are ... from an industry point of view and just from a general economic point of view."

It just creates unbelievable amount of opportunity.— Sam Sanderson, Construction Association of P.E.I.

The Federation of P.E.I. Municipalities agrees. It hopes the program can help not only large centres, but also smaller ones.

"I think there's lots of opportunities and you know something like this may go very well in satisfying a lot of the job requirements that are out there," said Bruce MacDougall, president of the federation. He said it may also help keep newcomers here.

'Looking for a reason to stay'

Sam Sanderson, president of the Construction Association of P.E.I., said there is an immediate shortage of 500 workers, and in the next seven to 10 years, the industry is looking at a shortage of 1,500 workers. He said the idea of this program makes sense. 

"Something that I've heard from a lot of our newcomer population is they're looking for a reason to stay and they're looking to go to work. They're looking to provide for themselves and their families," Sanderson said. 

Sam Sanderson, president of the Construction Association of P.E.I., says with a looming shortage of workers, the idea of this program makes sense. (Natalia Goodwin/CBC)

"So this just opens up so many more opportunities for the newcomers to start a new life for themselves — jump into a field where they're comfortable or have experience or show interest in. And again it just creates unbelievable amount of opportunity."

Charlottetown and the province said they look forward to more details becoming available on the rollout of the program, and to working with the federal government to improve the labour shortage issues on P.E.I. 

More P.E.I. news 


Natalia Goodwin

Video Journalist

Natalia is a multi-platform journalist in Ottawa. She has also worked for CBC in P.E.I. and Newfoundland and Labrador.


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