Sudbury business owner turns to skilled immigrants to address labour shortage

A Sudbury, Ont., business owner is applauding the federal government’s announcement to help bring skilled immigrants to Canada.

Robert Brouillette has been recruiting immigrants for about 10 years

Robert Brouillette, third from the left, stands with several workers he has hired from other countries. Brouillette says he turned to hiring skilled immigrants about 10 years ago to address a labour shortage. (Martha Dillman/CBC)

A Sudbury, Ont., business owner is applauding the federal government's efforts to help bring skilled immigrants to Canada.

On Thursday, the federal government announced a five-year program called the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot.

It will help communities to attract skilled immigrants to address labour shortages.

"It's fantastic," Robert Brouillette, president and owner of City Welding, said after hearing the news.

"We've been hiring immigrants, foreign workers, since 2008. We currently have nine foreign workers who are now permanent residents of Canada, they've had children born here [and] they own homes."

Brouillette says he's managed to have a retention rate of 100 per cent with the workers he's hired.

'Part of the team'

"We've been very proactive in finding them a place to live, helping them get their driver's licence, supporting whatever documents they need to get their permanent residency," he said.

"Just helping them feel welcome as part of the team. As owner of the company, I pick them up at the airport."

He says there are sometimes language barriers, but says he's created partnerships with local colleges to assist in learning English.

Once his workers arrive in Canada, he says he continues to work to retain them with his company. He says he has a retention rate of 100 per cent and adds some of the workers have moved up in the company, including supervisor positions.

Robert Brouillette is the president and owner of City Welding in Sudbury. (Martha Dillman/CBC)

Brouillette says he had to start recruiting internationally when he wasn't able to fill jobs at his company. He says there has been work to encourage young Canadians to study the trades, but says it's not enough.

"That shortage is critical," he said.

"If anybody is not on board or agrees that there's a significant and important shortage of skilled tradespeople, and if they think that we're going to create them locally or within Canada, it's not going to happen. There just hasn't been that investment at the high school level, at the college level."


Martha Dillman is a multimedia journalist based in Sudbury. You can find her on Twitter @marthaCBC or by email


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