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Winning with Newcomers

By July 23, 2013August 29th, 2023Diversity and Inclusion

By Baisakhi Roy

*Article republished from

At the recent 10th Annual Internationally Educated Professionals Conference, hosted by the Progress and Career Planning Institute (PCPI) in Toronto on April 5, the issue of workplace integration of new Canadians was a hot topic.

With recent reports indicating that Canada is facing a growing deficit of workers, there is an increased urgency for innovative inclusion strategies when it come to hiring newcomers.

“Employers must realize that they cannot properly address their skills shortages without making workforce integration programs more accessible to new Canadians,” says Silma Roddau, president of PCPI. “If not, they miss out on a whole talent pool of people and the potential to compete on both a local and global level.”

A newcomer speaks with an advisor at the Career, Education and Settlement Fair

Recently, the list of the Best Employers for New Canadians was announced and one of the awardees was St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto. Kevin Kirkpatrick, manager of recruitment at the hospital, stresses the importance of a diverse workforce. “St. Michael’s Hospital uses several programs for internationally educated professionals that attribute to our success in winning this award. We utilize an internship program from Career Bridge that allows IEPs an opportunity to get Canadian work experience and at the same time St. Michael’s benefits from highly trained expertise to assist with projects. To date, almost half of our internships have resulted in employment,” he says.

This competition, managed by the editors of Canada’s Top 100 Employers, recognizes the nation’s best employers for recent immigrants. One of the awardees recognized is the City of Mississauga. “The 2013 Best Employers for New Canadians special designation has recognized the city for offering programs that assist new Canadians to transition to a new workplace and a new life in Canada. Through these programs, internationally qualified professionals bring diversity and add great value to the workplace,” says Sharon Willock, director of human resources, City of Mississauga.

Among the other employers listed was Deloitte & Touche LLP, one of the biggest certified public accountant firms in the world. The company boasts hundreds of employees serving as mentors or “buddies” to new Canadians. No wonder that the company has been featured regularly on this esteemed list. “Our core culture is delivery to our clients. Our clients are diverse, so if we are not diverse, we won’t match up to their needs. We don’t want our clients to face our team and go, ‘You don’t look like us!’” said Jason Winkler, chief talent officer, Deloitte Canada in a recent interview with our magazine as part of our “What Employers Want” series. “We actually believe that our workplace is fun, more interesting, more valuable because we are all so different from each other. We come up with better ideas from a diverse workforce. It’s actually sound business.”

Kirkpatrick agrees that the connection between staff and clients (i.e., hospital patients in St. Michael’s case) is crucial, and the hospital makes an effort to invest in skill development and integration programs. “Once hired at St. Michael’s, our integration program works on developing the skills needed to succeed in the Canadian workplace. These programs are supported at the executive level at St. Michael’s because they have identified the need to ensure staff is reflective of the community and patients served by the hospital,” he says.

A career advisor leads a discussion at the Career, Education and Settlement Fair

Addressing this very need for a higher level of interaction between the immigrant talent pool and Canadian employers, Canadian Immigrant and Scotiabank in association with Centennial College are organizing their 3rd annual Career, Education and Settlement Fair on Tuesday, June 25, 2013, at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

The day-long fair is free to all newcomers in the GTA, offering them access to various exhibitors and interactive sessions led by experts in various fields of interests. The fair will provide information and tips on job hunting, accreditation and upgrading of education, as well as information about where to live, where to study and who to turn to when seeking assistance in your settlement.

Last year, major exhibitors at the fair included top employers like educational institutions such as the University of Toronto, Humber College and York University, while representatives of professional associations such as the Certified Management Accountant (CMA) and Certified General Accountant (CGA) associations were on hand to demystify any doubts foreign-trained professionals might have.

“I was very impressed with the level of attendees. Not only have most of them worked in the financial sector in their native countries, but also seem to have done a fair amount of research on what Scotiabank is all about. They have the skills, knowledge and expertise to work within functional areas of the bank,” said Sujay Vardhmane, senior manager, global employment strategies, Scotiabank, at the 2012 fair.