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Report: Government as Employer of Skilled Immigrants

By Sarah Wayland and Dan Sheffield with assistance from Sandra Lopes and Bonnie Mah

Governments are Canada’s largest employers. The federal, provincial and municipal governments employ 3.6 million people. Public administration or general government operations alone (excluding education, health and business initiatives) employ almost 1.4 million people. As such, governments are major employers in many cities. In some provinces and territories, the public sector employs over a quarter of the work force.

Yet, despite being a key factor in net labour force growth and skilled workers forming the largest immigration category, immigrants are only about half as likely to work in the public sector compared to Canadian-born populations.

Why is this the case? Overall, there is a paucity of research focused on immigrants in the public service. This paper seeks to address this gap by asking the following questions: What do we know about immigrant employment in the public sector? Do governments have any practices or policies to encourage the employment of immigrants? What could governments do to prepare for and respond to demographicshifts in the labour force?

The research for this paper sought to learn more about the conditions that influence various levels of government in employing skilled immigrants.

In particular, it sought to:

  • Explore the reasons why governments should be leaders in immigrant employment
  • Understand the conditions that influence behaviour on hiring immigrants (e.g. legislation, unions, citizenship or language requirements, political will)
  • Identify good immigrant employment practices and approaches currently used by governments
  • Provide credible findings that can be used to stimulate discussion about government immigrant employment practices

The findings from this research will inform recommendations for governments, immigrant employment councils, settlement service providers, and other stakeholders.

Read the brief

Read the full report