Manitoba can handle more immigrant workers
PRED executive director Vern May (left), Portage la Prairie Mayor Irvine Ferris (middle) and Portage RM Reeve Kam Blight during Wednesday morning's immigration employment discussion at Red River College in Portage. (Aaron Wilgosh/The Graphic)
Bring in the right workers to match the right employers' needs.
Immigrant employment was the topic of discussion at a presentation held at Red River College in Portage la Prairie Wednesday morning as Deputy Assistant Minister of Immigration for Manitoba Information and Training Ben Remple was in town to discuss the subject.
“The presentation was very informative for Reeve Blight and me,” says Portage la Prairie Mayor Irvine Ferris. “We were looking at ways we can not only increase local immigration to help drive our economy but retaining those workers when they arrive. Things like what we have to do as a community, but also as a business community.”
The Minister went over some of the perks for businesses that bring in immigrant employees, as well as some of the benefits for the community. He says it’s about matching immigrants with certain skills to an employer’s certain needs, and getting them involved with the community quickly. He says it’s not like picking a worker and getting the work done, you have to find the perfect match. In some cases, he says it’s better to bring a whole family in rather than a single person, as the family is much more likely to stick around.
“We’re happy we’re renewing the Provincial Nominee Program and now we’re reaching out to communities and employers across Manitoba to spread the word,” says Remple. “We really want to see if there might be any way we can improve on what is already a very successful program. The province has been growing for two decades now through immigration, and I think we can do even better at matching immigrant workers to employers’ needs.”
Remple went on to say Manitoba’s doing a good job retaining immigrant workers but when they’re here on a permanent residence they have the same rights as Canadians to move and find better opportunities. He feels if communities do a better job matching immigrant workers to the specific needs of employers they’re more likely to stay in those jobs.
“The RM is primarily agricultural but with the large pea processing plant coming in there will be a need for jobs there,” says Portage la Prairie Reeve, Kam Blight, who found it extremely informative and encouraging. “If the businesses in the city are struggling to find employees that affects the people in the RM. Whether it is farms, manufacturers or restaurants, the competition is there to try and find strong, committed, and capable employees.”
Blight and Ferris both agreed the RM, city, and local community groups like the Portage Community Revitalizations Corporation and Portage Regional Economic Development need to sit down and work on strategic planning, then after that, a comprehensive plan for the region to attract and retain immigrant workers in the community.
Remple adds 2017 saw 900 immigrant students brought into Manitoba for high school, university, or adult education and most of those students will end up staying in the province.