Efforts to recruit skilled foreign workers to northern Ontario paying off, official says

April 23, 2019

By CBC News |

A man who is helping to recruit skilled workers to northern Ontario says efforts to attract immigrants from abroad are starting to pay off.

The first of at least four families destined to arrive in the region over the next six weeks landed in Thunder Bay, Ont., over the Easter Weekend, and three more are on their way Yaye Peukassa told CBC.

Peukassa, who was an employability and entrepreneurship counsellor with the Société Économique de l’Ontario (SEO), was working with the Thunder Bay Community Matchmaker program, a partnership between the North Superior Workforce Planning Board, La Société Économique de l’Ontario, the Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce, the Thunder Bay Community Economic Development Commission and the Northern Policy Institute.

He attended a recruitment event known as Destination Canada in Paris and Brussels in November as the SEO’s first official there tasked with recruiting skilled workers to northern Ontario. There, Peukassa lobbied visitors to Ontario’s exhibit to choose smaller communities in the north, he said, touting the lower cost of living and reduced competition for good jobs.

“After coming back with hundreds of resumes and hundreds of interests, some employers expressed the need [for] it and were interested in some profiles,” he said. “Those people applied. We helped them go through the work permit application system, and today they are here with us in Canada.”

One of the people he successfully persuaded was computer engineer Inoussa Pempemé, who arrived in Thunder Bay from Cameroon on Sunday and is bound for a job as an IT trainer at the Centre de formation pour adultes de Greenstone, an organization that serves the area’s francophone community.

Pempemé’s employer had been searching for someone to fill the position for more than a year, Peukassa said.

Pempené, who previously worked in France and the United Arab Emirates told CBC in French that he wanted to come to Canada because he was looking for a new challenge and wanted to raise his young children in a bilingual and multicultural country.

Other skilled workers are set to arrive over the next six weeks from Bangladesh, Algeria and Morocco, Peukassa said, including a family of five that is due to arrive in May to fill a job in Kenora.

It’s impossible to predict just how many skilled workers might arrive in the north from abroad this year, he said, but added, “There’s much more to come. We’re just waiting for the visas to be approved.”

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