The head of one of Canada’s largest banks is calling for greater immigration diversity, and more cooperation between the federal and provincial governments in building a successful Canadian immigration policy.
Gordon Nixon, the Chief Executive Office of the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), as well as chairman of the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council, says that Canada’s cultural diversity—resulting from its immigration policy—makes the country stronger.
“Our economic strength is derived from the combination of what we all have in common, and what makes each of us different,” Nixon recently wrote in the Globe & Mail. The Royal Bank CEO added that immigration plays a growing role in Canada’s future, with projections that by 2031 about 28 percent of all Canadians will be foreign-born, a considerable increase from the current 20 percent.
Nixon, an influential voice in Canada’s financial community, also pointed out that his bank conducted a study in 2012 confirming the enormous economic impact of Canada’s immigrant workforce. According to Nixon, the RBC study found there’s an economic price paid—by all Canadians—for the inequality between the salaries of native-born Canadians and immigrants doing the same job.
“If immigrants were earning equal pay to Canadian-born peers, personal income would be $31-billion higher—more than 2.1 per cent of Canada’s GDP. This means we are failing to tap the full potential of these highly skilled people, and the full economic potential of our nation,” Nixon explained.
As head of one of the country’s largest financial institutions, Nixon also argued that the international experience that immigrants bring to the Canadian workforce is an important asset in the modern global economy.
Cautioning that there is a “war for talent” among nations, Nixon argued that—contrary to what some believe about the challenges newcomers face in integrating into Canada—immigrants’ international experience “is an asset to business, and relates directly to the modern Canadian context.”
Both governments, and businesses, have a vital role to play in shaping the future of Canada’s immigration, according to Nixon; business leaders, no matter the size of their company, should actively advocate for diversity within their business, and not only acknowledge existing biases but “identify them and develop strategies to compensate for them.”
Nixon also called on the federal and provincial governments to “address inter-provincial barriers” preventing immigrant movement between provinces, as well as “invest substantially” in programs that help immigrants integrate into Canadian society.
As it plans for the future, Canada needs to build upon its long history of promoting immigration, Nixon wrote.
According to Nixon, “Canada has relied on diversity and immigration to build a prosperous economy, and will continue to do so in the years ahead. We are good at it, but we need to get better to maintain that competitive edge.”