Two weeks ago, I hosted the Honourable Filomena Tassi, minister of Public Services and Procurement, in Sudbury for a series of meetings with local stakeholders, businesses, and industry partners. The message to Minister Tassi was clear — what Sudbury’s economy needs most is labour force renewal, specifically skilled labour and immigration.
In fact, the Mining Association of Canada have also been clear about the most significant challenge facing Sudbury’s world-class mining sales and service sector is access to skilled labour. An added challenge, as stated by Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce President Debbi Nicholson, is making sure Sudbury has the needed housing supply to welcome these new workers.
Our government is committed to working with industry, skilled trades and post-secondary partners to ensure our youth are given the opportunity to access these excellent, high-paying jobs, and progress is being made. But we have heard loud and clear that we need solutions to close the skilled labour shortage right now, and that’s where immigration comes in.
In 2017, our government launched the Rural and Northern Immigration Partnership specifically to work with local employers and international candidates to fill immediate gaps. The program has seen many candidates and their families settle into Sudbury, working in critical industries, and contributing to our community.
As a report this month from Sudbury’s Northern Policy Institute (NPI) noted, immigration is a key piece of the economic puzzle in communities like Sudbury, and RNIP is playing an important role in the immigration picture. In All Roads Lead Home: Immigration Flows into Greater Sudbury, the NPI concludes “Economic immigration is a valuable tool for communities to fill labour market shortages and counteract the effects of an aging population, low birth rates, and high levels of youth out-migration.”
That’s why I am pleased the federal minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, Sean Fraser, has listened to communities like Sudbury and last week agreed to a series of measures that will help Sudbury businesses attract and retain more of the skilled labour we so badly need.
Beginning immediately, the federal government will resume and increase Express Entry draws and we will invite more international graduates in Canada to stay and work in the communities in which they live. In Sudbury, we have up to 1,500 international students at our three post-secondary schools at any given time, and making it possible for them to stay, live and work in Sudbury is important.
I commend the Minister for listening and taking action to address Sudbury’s needs. Next, I will be advocating to have RNIP made permanent when the trial ends at the end of this year.
As Sudbury emerges from the pandemic, the federal government will continue to support employers, skilled trades organizations and workers as we build a prosperous and secure future together.
Viviane Lapointe is the Liberal MP for Sudbury.