By Petrusia Hontar
Immigration has historically been the foundation of population growth in Canada. In Elgin and St Thomas 13% of the current population immigrated to Canada and an additional 19% have at least one immigrant parent. Over the years the face of immigration has been shifting from primarily European to a more ethnically diverse mix. In St. Thomas today there are individuals from over 67 countries of origin, resulting in a diverse mosaic of newcomers enriching the community.
There are several pathways to immigrate into Canada within the following categories: Family Class Sponsorships, Economic Applicants, and Refugees. Between 2008 and 2010 Elgin County had a low flow of economic immigrants with only three out of ten immigrants coming from the economic stream compared to six out of ten for Canada. The major drive for immigration in our County has been through the Family Class, accounting for four out of ten immigrants settling. While the majority of the immigrants enter under the Family Class, they still have higher education levels than the community in general. One in five will have a university degree compared to one in twelve Elgin residents. These demographics make strategic immigration policies a potential way to attract skilled and experienced professionals to our area.
With the future skills shortage looming, we have the potential to keep and attract businesses to our community by filling the highly skilled jobs. This will allow businesses to flourish and create employment and training opportunities for all skill levels in the community.
Under the previous application process known as the Points System, applicants were processed in the order in which they were received. In January 2015 a major change in the application process for Economic Immigrants (Federal Skilled Worker, Federal Skilled Trades, and Canadian Experience Class) immigration was implemented. This new system, called Express Entry, gives the local employers tools to address skills shortages in an efficient and timely process.
Under the Express Entry system, a point system will continue to be used. Half of the potential 1,200 points are awarded for having a valid job offer with the remaining 600 points calculated according to the following: age, education, language, skills, and work experience. The preferred age of immigrants under this system, ages 20-29, complements the youth out-migration that Elgin County is experiencing in the 15 to 34 age range. Applicants are given an “Invitation to Apply” based on the ranking they obtain. The result will be that fluent English or French-speaking, highly educated, experienced applicants will be placed into the Government of Canada’s Job Bank.
For employers to access the Express Entry pool, available jobs must first be listed on the Job Bank for 28 days. If no successful candidates can be found at this time, the employer can submit a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) and then can begin a search for an Express Entry applicant. If a successful match is made, the immigration application will be processed quickly. The employer is not responsible for supporting the immigrant in their settlement process as local Settlement Services are available in our community.
This process provides a powerful tool for employers to recruit skilled applicants to address the needs of their current and predicted work demands. For more information on Express Entry visit www.cic.gc.ca.
The St. Thomas-Elgin Local Immigration Partnership has been supporting Elgin County and St. Thomas in the development and implementation of sustainable solutions for the successful integration of newcomers. To find out more about the work that we do, please join us for our community celebration, Moving Forward, on Thursday February 19th from 5pm to 8pm at the St Thomas Seniors Centre.