NORTHERN ONTARIO -- Despite recent reports of job growth across Canada, there are still many gaps and systemic barriers in-place that can make pathways to employment more opaque for some than others - particularly, newcomers to the country and to the province of Ontario.
In that spirit, the Northern Policy Institute has partnered with the Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development to host a workshop that will raise awareness of the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP) and how employers in the North can navigate the program to fill their talent needs.
The webinar will be held on Feb. 14 from 9-10 am, hosted by Shaloma Gauthier from the ministry. It's free to attend.
Those interested in attending the webinar can register through Eventbrite.
Northern Policy Institute Lead Analyst, Tammy Borgen-Flood, said this webinar came about following a review of the responses that NPI received to several surveys sent out across the northern region in February 2022.
“As part of our ‘Measurement Month’ initiative, we launched surveys to different groups including employers around the region. We really wanted to know what role organizations play in creating welcoming communities and if they have the resources to do so,” Borgen-Flood said.
Borgen-Flood emphasized the “employer preparedness” survey wherein employers from the “big five” cities – Thunder Bay, North Bay, Sudbury, Timmins, and Sault Ste. Marie – responded that they have overall positive attitudes towards hiring newcomers but they also identified that navigating the immigration process is “difficult.”
That’s where the OINP factors in.
“It complements federal immigration pathways and it allows the province to select immigrants who have the skills and experience to meet our labour market needs. The program is for people who have a job offer in Ontario and it can also help employers find the skilled workers they need,” Borgen-Flood said.
Through the program, these skilled workers are nominated for permanent residence and given the security needed to pursue job opportunities.
Borgen-Flood said the program is designed to target specific groups of workers, students, and business professionals.
Between 2010 and 2019, Northern Ontario secured around 495 nominees from the OINP, according to Borgen-Flood.
She also said the upcoming webinar is focused on how employers can effectively leverage the OINP and on the right immigration pathways to hire and retain newcomers to address specific labour shortage or staffing concerns.
In a statement provided to Dougall Media, the Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development highlighted the necessity for this webinar in addition to the need to draw awareness to the OINP.
“Ontario has been facing the largest labour shortage in a generation. Over 200,000 jobs are still going unfilled, costing billions in lost productivity. We know that welcoming skilled immigrants is essential to solving our ongoing labour shortage,” the statement read.
The statement further echoes Borgen-Flood’s explanation of how the OINP can help newcomers and employers alike find the right fit for them – this includes health-care workers who have been in short supply across Northern Ontario.
“The intention of the program is to build and maintain a strong economy while also helping us attract the skilled workers needed to build the homes, hospitals, schools, and highways that our growing province needs.”
The province’s needs are ongoing, of course, and that means there are definitely more webinars planned in the future – though specific dates haven’t been given yet.
The ministry said they are “continuously leading and developing webinars and outreach sessions, virtually and in-person” - in an effort to promote the OINP and build partnerships in communities across the North.
“Northern employers can reach out anytime to the OINP’s dedicated Business Services Team, who will answer questions and help employers to navigate the immigration system. We look forward to continuing to work with the Northern Policy Institute and other partners and employers in the North looking to build and attract skilled workforces,” the ministry wrote.
Borgen-Flood pointed out that the ministry recently created what they call the Immigration Promotion Employer Outreach Unit, created to specifically hone in on the needs of employers and address critical labour shortages in priority areas such as health care and skilled trades.
The new unit was also created to go hand-in-hand with the OINP but with a specific focus on regions outside of the Greater Toronto Area.
“A lot of the time, when newcomers are coming to Canada that’s where they go and we really need the workforce here in Northern Ontario,” Borgen-Flood said.
She encouraged any employers and newcomers who are interested in learning more about the OINP and how to navigate the immigration system to register online for the webinar.
She also said that they have a wait list in the event that the webinar reaches their cap of 60 participants.
“At NPI, we have that platform and we do have the partnerships where we’re able to come together and put these things on so it can benefit anybody in Northern Ontario,” she said.