Ontario has called on the federal government to double the number of immigrants allowed into the province under a program aimed at boosting the skilled workforce.
Labour Minister Monte McNaughton said the province is facing a significant labour shortage that has been intensified by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He says doubling the number of immigrants allowed under the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program from 9,000 to 18,000 a year will help tackle that shortage.
The number of job vacancies in Ontario has increased from 234,000 in October of last year to almost 316,000 vacant jobs last month, according to Statistics Canada.
While all industries are dealing with a labour crunch, 38,000 jobs in health care, 29,000 in food services, 24,000 in manufacturing, and 21,000 in construction were unfilled in the second quarter of this year.
A spokesman for the federal immigration minister said Ontario receives the largest number of economic immigrants among all provinces and territories.
“We are currently reviewing Ontario’s request to increase the number of newcomers under the (program) as we finalize next year’s immigration levels plan,” Alexander Cohen said.
The Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program allows foreign skilled workers and international students to apply to the Ontario government to be nominated for permanent residency in the province, but the federal government makes the final decision on approving the applications.
The province nominates people who have the skills and experience needed in Ontario.
McNaughton said Ottawa should also provide more funding for foreign credential recognition efforts, improve the temporary foreign worker program, and help ensure international students stay in the province after they graduate in Ontario.