By Cecilia Nasmith/Today’s Northumberland
A new approach to immigrant settlement that is actually good for community workforces is moving along in Northumberland County.
Director of Economic Development and Tourism Dan Borowec shared details on the joint initiative between Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada and Shapiro Foundation Settlement Services at council’s Economic Development, Tourism, Land Use Planning Committee’s June meeting.
What is innovative about the Shapiro Foundation, Borowec said, is that it focuses on the country of origin. Working with IRCC, it has had promising results from a pilot project in Pictou County.
“The community is responsible for determining their requirements in their never-ending search for labour force,” he said, and Pictou County identified two areas od need – health care (specifically nurses) and construction trades.
From there, the Shapiro Foundation and IRCC work together to find that talent in what he termed a country of choice – “in this case, Kenya, primarily because their educational system and language align well with Canada.”
While the Shapiro Foundation does not provide funding, he said, they offer other resources from relationships already in place to do the work in the country of choice that simplifies matters for potential new Canadians to make their way to our workforce.
One of their requirements is the guarantee for a job, which is a departure from the traditional way things are done.
For example, Borowec said, a nurse who arrives in Canada must find her own job and make her own way in settling into a new community. With a job already in place, this step is removed from the process.
The county became involved through the work of Settlement Services Co-ordinator Emilio Ojeda and the relationships he has forged on his own. And at this time, the Shapiro Foundation is looking for a project in Ontario. The result has been meetings with IRCC representatives, and an impending visit from these representatives as well as agents of the Shapiro Foundation.
Northumberland has already identified the same two workforce needs as Pictou County, and this project could result in a talent search.
“Certainly in the case of the county with the work currently under way at a new Golden Plough Lodge and the requirements that might be necessary there, and in conversations with the development community – they are extremely keen to try to revitalize their own workforces,” he said.
“The only cost in this is time and commitment. It’s not a financial line on the budget – certainly the whole settlement-services portfolio is funded by both the Federal government and, to a lesser degree, provincially, and it falls well into the mandate of what we are engaged in.”
“I think this is an exciting opportunity, and I love the approach,” committee member Mandy Martin declared.
“It’s not just a matter of putting bodies in spots. The emphasis on community and support and making it sustainable is, I think, fabulous. And to be recognized as an opportunity for this foundation is exciting.”
Borowec said the credit had to be shared.
“The charm of Emilio goes a long way to to building some of these relationship opportunities, so kudos to Emilio!” he said.