Immigration System Requires Overhaul Says Surrey Board of Trade – All Levels of Government Need to Work Together with Industry

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On September 12, the Surrey Board of Trade held a Surrey Leadership Dialogue focused on immigration and its impacts on the business community. Topics covered included the immigration process, housing, and government funding available for upskilling and reskilling.

“We need revolutionary change on immigration to ensure industry needs are met and to ensure productive pathways for existing and new immigrants,” said Anita Huberman, President & CEO, Surrey Board of Trade. “It is clear that the current system has significant gaps.”

The attendees and panelists noted many flaws in the immigration system and the Permanent Residence (PR) system:

1.     There are many occupational categories that are not viewed as important to the Canadian PR system, making it more difficult to attain citizenship and ultimately compromising livelihoods.

2.     Our workplace cultures over emphasize the need for Canadian experiences the reality is that other countries are far ahead of Canada’s economy and their ability to include immigrants. This has resulted in Canada’s per capita GDP falling behind many other OECD countries.

3.     Affordability and housing are significant issues for immigrants. We need to ensure that our immigration system helps match individuals to housing and employment before they arrive in Canada. All levels of government need to work together with the private sector to address housing construction delays.

4.     Foreign credential recognition needs absolute change, requiring the provincial government to implement action immediately to work with all professional associations so that immigrants can work in the fields in which they were originally trained for.

The panelists were:

·      Megan Dykeman, Parliamentary Secretary for Community Development and Non-profits, Province of British Columbia

·      Daniel C. Lee, Associate, Fasken

·      Trevor Hargreaves, Senior Vice President of Policy Research & Government Relations, BC Real Estate Association

·      Raj Hundal, Senior Director of Employment, Planning & Program Development, Progressive Intercultural Community Services Society

·      Kerry Jothen, CEO, Human Capital Strategies