Exploring Immigrant Hiring in Northwestern Ontario

In Northwestern Ontario, much like in the rest of Canada, there is an ever increasing focus on immigration and nation/region building, as well as on the need for communities and employers to consider the recruitment and attraction of newcomers for growth and economic stability. Municipalities are beginning to view immigration as an economic driver and an element of community growth strategies.

Employers recruit immigrants without considering the need to welcome and integrate them. While employment has been recognized as the main attractor, and sustained employment as the primary factor in retention, other supporting factors and the welcoming ability of the community are also critical for retention. The misconception or assumption that a job is the answer to all integration needs is being replaced by the reality that integration is critical and that it takes a whole community.

The goal of this research project was to investigate the role of employers and the private sector in supporting (or not supporting) the integration of immigrants; to assess their knowledge and practices in regard to attracting, hiring and training immigrants and newcomers; and to provide a much needed snapshot of immigrant hiring practices, or lack thereof, in the region.

We expected to find a correlation between knowledge and use of integration practices, on the one hand, and the number of immigrants and newcomers hired by industry, region and area, on the other. We also wanted to gain an understanding of what settlement resources and community programs are being utilized by employers to support the integration of newcomers into the community and region in an effort to increase receptivity. The results of the research provided examples of best practices by employers, insight into employers’ understanding of and misconceptions about hiring immigrants, as well as an opportunity to engage employers in training and informed discussion on the issues that arose.