August 2019
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. Immigration also enhances the diversity of our communities and enriches our social fabric.

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 in a timely fashion is critical for the province’s prosperity.

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 efforts to settle and integrate Syrian refugees. The AMO-Ontario-Canada Municipal Immigration Committee under the Canada Ontario Immigration Agreement provides a trilateral forum for the three orders of government to work together to advance shared immigration objectives.  

Key immigration developments over the past year include the launch of a Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot by the federal government. AMO will be watching the outcomes of this initiative to see if it proves useful in dispersing the benefits of immigration across the province. In Budget 2019, the Government of Ontario also announced the launch of its own Regional Immigration Pilot as well as reforms to the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program. Both of these provincial actions are aimed at better connecting skilled immigrants with employers facing labour market shortages. We will be monitoring the results of these provincial actions to determine whether lessons learned are applicable in other Ontario communities.
 
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, including international students trained in Canada. 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.