The Canada sign in Victoria’s Inner Harbour is pictured in early 2023. Canada accepted a record number of immigrants in 2022. (Jake Romphf/News Staff)

The Canada sign in Victoria’s Inner Harbour is pictured in early 2023. Canada accepted a record number of immigrants in 2022. (Jake Romphf/News Staff)

Immigration key to Greater Victoria’s economy as Canada set record in 2022

Quicker recognition of international credentials still needed, says Chamber of Commerce

A local business group continues to highlight where more can be done to support immigration that’s vital to Greater Victoria’s economy as Canada welcomed more newcomers than ever before in 2022.

The federal government announced on Jan. 3 that it reached its target of welcoming just over 431,000 new permanent residents in 2022.

The Liberals say immigration will be a key part of their economic plans as the country’s aging workforce retires and domestic birth rates continue to fall.

“Newcomers play an essential role in filling labour shortages, bringing new perspectives and talents to our communities, and enriching our society as a whole,” Immigration Minister Sean Fraser said while announcing the 2022 record.

The Capital Region has always been reliant on immigration to grow its economy, said Bruce Williams, CEO of the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce.

“They bring their skills but another really important element is they bring their culture,” Williams said. “That’s another really important part of it, to give us an opportunity to better understand the rest of the world.”

“The more opportunities we have to learn more about other cultures, the better we are.”

Canada’s record immigration in 2022 is great, Williams said, as the region’s economic growth would slow without the increased levels. It also comes as the local economy faces ongoing labour shortage issues that worsened as workers left many sectors, like hospitality and tourism, during the pandemic and as Victoria’s comparatively high cost of living puts a strain on employers retaining staff, Williams said.

Immigration has fueled Canada’s population growth since the early ’90s, according to Statistics Canada, mostly from the economic category.

Newcomers who settled in Greater Victoria over the last 40 years used economic programs more than any other admission category, according to census data.

Both Williams and the feds said the increasing immigration levels will be important to attracting skills needed for sectors like health care, construction and the trades, manufacturing and technology.

While the local chamber has always conveyed the importance of immigration, an issue it continues to raise is how international-obtained credentials are recognized in Canada and the inconsistent recognition across provinces.

Health care and engineering credential issues are some of the most common that Williams hears about – with the latter having the potential to delay work and therefore lead to increased costs. He said it would be more prudent to get those recognized before people arrive so they can start working right away.

“The lack of recognition of those credentials is kind of counterproductive to bringing someone here with those credentials if they can’t work.”

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