August 2018
Backgrounder
Immigration strengthens communities and bolsters local and regional economies. With an aging population and declining birth rates, Ontario depends on immigration to secure population growth, address labour market shortages and promote economic development. To meet these objectives, the province must remain a destination of choice for newcomers seeking to build a life in Canada. In a globally competitive world, developing processes, policies and a welcoming atmosphere to attract and integrate newcomers is critical for the province’s prosperity. Successfully integrating newcomers in a timely fashion is also key to ensuring Ontario is open for business.

Equally important is the need to spread the benefits of immigration across Ontario to rural, northern and francophone communities. Moving forward, all orders of government must leverage the Provincial Nominee Program, local immigration pilot projects and investments in promising initiatives to disperse the benefits of immigration across Ontario.

Although immigration is a shared provincial-federal responsibility, new immigrants interact with municipal services immediately upon arrival. Municipalities provide a range of social services that support new immigrants and refugees to establish homes and contribute to their local economy. Ontario’s municipal governments have also taken an active role in refugee settlement, notably as important partners in recent efforts to settle and integrate Syrian refugees.

Ontario’s municipal governments are welcoming communities but require supports from both the federal and provincial governments to assist refugees and successfully attract, retain and integrate skilled immigrants. Notably, many newcomers struggle to find employment matching their skillset and credentials. Others may temporarily require language, educational, and housing supports as they transition into Ontario’s labour force.

Municipal Local Immigration Partnerships (LIPs) coordinate services and work to achieve better outcomes for newcomers. AMO has worked closely with the provincial and federal governments to enhance LIPs. They are essential in settling newcomers and require continued support and funding from the federal and provincial governments.

Municipal website portals, made possible through the provincial Municipal Immigration Information Online (MIIO) program, are another crucial tool to help attract and integrate newcomers. These websites help newcomers select a community and begin integrating into their new lives. Continued funding for MIIO and expansion into more communities is important for economic development.

The new Canada-Ontario Immigration Agreement serves as an important backdrop to this intergovernmental collaboration. The Agreement commits the federal and provincial governments to engaging with their municipal counterparts on immigration. AMO looks forward to the implementation of the Agreement and to our continued partnership with the federal and provincial governments on immigration issues.