Immigrants have a key role to play in helping grow the Canadian economy and off-setting the country’s growing shortage of skilled labour, says Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz.
In a March 13 speech at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, the head of Canada’s central bank said immigration is critical to keeping inflation low and balancing the trend of Canada’s aging workforce.
“Immigration can help provide an important off-set,” Poloz said, as can “untapped sources of labour within our existing population.”
With Canada’s economy hitting its “sweet spot” of rising demand and companies operating at near capacity, Poloz said this growth is translating into new jobs — and escalating job vacancies.
“None of this highly desirable economic growth can happen unless there are people available to fill the newly created jobs,” he said. “A healthy, well-functioning labour market is critical.”
He pointed to data from Statistics Canada that show job vacancies rising to a record 470,000 in the fall of 2017.
“We hear from business leaders that many of these vacancies are going unfilled because they cannot find workers with the right skills,” he said.
To help solve this shortage, Poloz said Canada needs to accelerate the integration of new immigrants into the workforce and improve the labour participation rate of Canada’s youth, women and Indigenous peoples.
“Put it all together, and it is not much of a stretch to imagine that Canada’s labour force could expand by another half a million workers,” he said. “This could increase Canada’s potential output by as much as 1.5 per cent, or about $30 billion per year.”
Digital economy creating new jobs
Rapid advancements in digital technology are also producing new demands for workers with the requisite skills, he observed
“New applications are creating jobs that were unimaginable just years ago,” he said. “Ten years ago, there were no smartphone app developers, or cloud computing engineers or social media managers.”
Ultimately, Canada stands to gain from these innovations and the income-generating effect of these new jobs, he said.
“These are exciting times. New opportunities, new technologies and new industries are all waiting right around the corner.”