Lack of Immigration Due to COVID-19 Could Lead to Employment Shortages Says RBC
The immigration slump caused by the COVID-19 pandemic could cause severe repercussions for Canada’s economy and various job sectors, according to a recent report from the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC).
The report found that the lack of immigration in recent months due to Canadian travel restrictions may jeopardize Canada’s ability to fill job vacancies in sectors such as health and elder care, as many members of the Baby Boomer generation will soon retire over the next few years.
The report also appeals to the Canadian federal government to look for new ways to promote and increase immigration going forward.
“Canada does rely on having large numbers of people coming to the country to fuel growth and, if we see these large declines, one concern could be that people may decide maybe they don’t want to come to Canada anymore,” says the report’s author, Andrew Agopsowicz, a senior economist for RBC who studies labour trends.
“I think it’s really important for Canada to ensure the process is clear and that we still put out this attitude that we are open and we want people from the rest of the world to come to our country.”
Where Immigration Levels Currently Stand
Permanent Resident acceptances have decreased 67 per cent from this same period last year, the report found. Permanent residency applications to Canada have also gone down by 80 per cent. Meanwhile, only approximately 10,000 new study permits were processed, compared to the 107,000 issued one year prior. The root cause of this is the COVID-19 travel restrictions that have been in place since March.
While travel restrictions continue to loosen and Canada works towards increasing immigration during this pandemic, RBC expects that only 70 per cent of Canada’s original immigration target for 2020 (341,000 new permanent residents) will actually be met by year’s end, which would be a decline of around 100,000 new residents.
“The decrease in immigration is particularly troubling for elder care employers, as this sector has suffered from widespread labour shortages due to the pandemic’s deadly impact on Canada’s long-term care homes,” Dr. Samir Sinha, director of health policy research at the National Institute on Ageing at Ryerson University and director of geriatrics at Mount Sinai Hospital, told the Canadian Press.
Dr. Sinha added that recruiting Canadian-born workers to these positions and keeping immigrants in these positions for longer periods would require wage increases.
“We’ve been having a huge struggle finding workers and retaining workers in this sector for years … and we were only keeping it afloat by often recruiting immigrants who are willing to take on these jobs that we as Canadians didn’t want to do,” he said. “The fact it’s low paid and not valued also speaks to one of the reasons it’s been incredibly hard retaining (staff).”