Ontario’s skills gap widens by 9%: Chamber report points to immigration reform as part of the solution


Today, the Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce (SSMCOC), in partnership with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) released a report entitled, Passport to Prosperity: Ontario’s Priorities for Immigration Reform, which presents a series of recommendations designed to reduce Ontario’s costly skills gap and improve the labour outcomes of immigrants in the province.

According to a 2016 OCC membership survey, the skills gap in Ontario is worsening. In fact, the survey found that 39 percent of employers experienced difficulty filling a job opening over the last 12 to 18 months because they could not find someone with the right qualifications. This represents a 9 percent increase from survey data on the same question, first reported by the OCC in 2014.

“Addressing the skills gap has been a key priority of our membership over the past five years,” said SSMCOC President, Monica Dale. “We recognize that there is a golden opportunity for employers and government to work together to ensure that our province’s employers have access to the best and the brightest talent in the world and, similarly, that new market entrants in Ontario have access to opportunities that align with their unique skillsets.”

At the same time, the evidence suggests that Ontario can do a better job of leveraging the skills and global connections of new Ontarians. Immigrants to Ontario experience poor labour market outcomes relative to their Canadian-born peers. Only 57 percent of recently arrived, post-secondary educated immigrants to Ontario are actually working in high-skill jobs. In comparison, 77 percent of people born in Canada with post-secondary education are working in high-skill jobs.

“Canada is home to some of the most talented people in the world. Our diversity is one of our greatest competitive advantages. This is especially the case in Ontario, as we have the highest newcomer population in the country,” said Allan O’Dette, President and CEO of the OCC. “Ontario possesses an unlimited amount innovative potential, and if our talent pool is engaged effectively, we can lead the world in employment and economic growth.”

To improve the labour market outcomes of immigrants and to ensure that Ontario businesses are able to effectively leverage the talents and global connections of its workforce, the SSMCOC and the OCC are recommending that the Government of Canada take action in accordance to the following three priority areas:

  • Address barriers to opportunity within the selection system;
  • Prioritize the attraction and retention of international students; and
  • Improve the coordination of labour market integration and settlement services.

SSMCOC Second Vice President, Jason Naccarato stresses the importance of developing an immigration system that is responsive to labour market demand. He noted that “the current skills gap costs the Ontario economy up to $24.3 billion in foregone GDP and $3.7 billion in provincial tax revenues annually. Economic immigration is an essential component to overcoming this shortfall.”

He added that “it’s important to note that this initiative targets areas of our economy that have open positions for highly skilled or specialized individuals that cannot be filled within our current workforce and are hindering business expansion and growth. These are high quality positions that could create additional spin off jobs in our community.”

The OCC will continue to engage the provincial and federal governments on behalf of the Ontario business community to ensure the future prosperity of our population.

To review the report Passport to Prosperity: Ontario’s Priorities for Immigration Reform, click HERE…


  1. I am the local SSM Employment Officer for the Professions North/Nord Bridging Program (PNN) which assists local Employers to find pre-screened Professional Newcomers that have the right skill set to fill job vacancies in SSM and Algoma District. We work with newcomers in SSM/Algoma as well as with over 20 Agencies in Southern Ontario to find the right candidate match for your business. If you are struggling to find a Professional for your business and are open to diversity within your organization, please contact Sharon Mosker – PNN Employment Officer at 705-759-0909 ext 4244 or [email protected] PNN is located throughout Northern Ontario and will assist you to find the best candidate for your business!

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