August 2017

With an aging population and declining birth rates, the Province will rely on immigration for its net labour market growth in the near future. Ontario needs to remain a destination of choice for newcomers. In a globally competitive world, developing processes and policies to attract newcomers to Ontario and help them to enter in a timely way is more important than ever.

While municipal governments have no constitutional responsibility for immigrant selection, settlement, and integration, new immigrants interact with municipal services immediately upon arrival. Municipalities provide a range of human and social services that are culturally sensitive, responsive and welcoming to new immigrants.

However, newcomers face significant barriers, especially in terms of the labour market. It is challenging for them to find work that best uses their skills and many are either underemployed or unemployed for long periods of time, to the detriment of the individual, their families, and the provincial economy. Once they arrive, newcomers need support to integrate into society and into the workforce. It is crucial that the Province continue to work with the federal government and the private sector to help newcomers, from labour market integration programs to foreign credential recognition efforts.

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 maintain LIPs because they are essential to the effort of settling newcomers and continued federal support and funding is essential.

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 to select a community and begin integrating into their new lives. Continued funding for MIIO and expansion into more communities is part of the equation for Ontario’s newcomer success.

Immigration strengthens communities and bolsters local and regional economies. It is a source of skilled human capital, and the successful integration of newcomers also lays the foundation for better social inclusion and wider citizen engagement.

AMO continues to work with the provincial and federal governments on these issues and AMO will continue to advocate for the importance of municipal engagement in immigration policy and program development. In particular, AMO looks forward to a new Canada-Ontario Immigration Agreement and expects municipal engagement to help move it forward.