Immigration and Economic Growth

Immigration in Durham Region

The Durham Region demographic profile highlights that in 2016, 24% of Durham’s population were immigrants, a number that we will expect to increase with the next census results.

The Town of Whitby and the broader Durham region is home to successful newcomer entrepreneurs and innovators. Immigration not only has a direct impact on our economic success and competitiveness as a Region, but it also is part of the fabric of our everyday lives. In our art, culture, food, and experiences – the diverse backgrounds of our residents make our communities dynamic places to live and work.

Skills gap in Canada: Immigration is an economic imperative

Growing the economy through immigration is a key strategy in Canada. 75% of Canada’s population growth comes from immigration, mostly in the economic category .

Why is immigration so important from an economic perspective?

The Canadian workforce demographic will change significantly over the next 15 years driven by:
• An aging population – by 2030, all of Canada’s 9.2 million baby boomers will be of retirement age.
• A stagnant birth rate
• The changing nature of work and the introduction of new and advanced technologies, contributing to widening skills gaps in the labour force.

In 2016, over 35 per cent of Ontario employers reported difficulty filling a job opening because they could not find someone with the right qualifications . By 2030, as we see further changes as a result of the retirement of the baby boomers, immigration becomes an increasingly important tool to fill the gap.

To put it in perspective, in 1971 the worker to retiree ratio was about 7 to 1 in Canada. In 2035, the ratio is expected to be 2 to 1. As this scenario plays out, pressure on public systems and services such as health care and education will continue to mount, and our standard of living could be impacted.

The competition for talent and investment

The Government of Canada continues to prioritize immigration, with plans to admit over 1.2 million immigrants by 2023 , to address national sustainability and growth. Canada is a destination of choice for international talent and business. Immigrants to Canada are highly skilled and bring global connections, diversity of experiences and insights into local markets and facilitate greater access to foreign markets.

The supply of skilled labour and talent drive global investment decisions. Regions across the world are competing for new talent and investment for their communities. Organizations are also increasingly recognizing the importance of diversity within their workforce.
Immigration naturally leads to greater diversity. Research suggests that organizations with a diverse workforce perform better financially, are more effective and boast higher levels of staff engagement than those with homogenous workforces.

Newcomers to Canada will make decisions on where to live and work, based on multiple factors, including the opportunity for meaningful employment (and remuneration!) that meets their skills and experience as well as inclusive spaces that are welcoming and supportive.

Employment – A key to settlement success

While there are many factors that contribute to the settlement of newcomers in our communities, there is no question that employment is key.

Despite the known benefits of diversity in the workforce and the widening skills gap, many immigrants to Canada experience trouble securing employment that aligns to their skill level . National data indicates that recent immigrants aged 25 to 54 with a university degree earned 67 per cent of the wages of their Canadian-born counterparts . It is estimated that Canada forgoes $50 billion due to the immigrant wage gap, stemming in part from a failure to recognize credentials and work experience outside of Canada.

This is both an ethical and economic problem. Other common employment related challenges faced by immigrants include, limited networks and mentoring opportunities, and biases in the hiring process and in the workplace.

Durham Region: Immigration and Community Plan

The 2020-2024 Durham Immigration and Inclusion Community Plan prioritizes employer engagement around the meaningful employment of immigrants and how to improve support for newcomers in the workplace and in the community.

• World Education Services’ Employer Playbook provides strategies for immigrant inclusion in Canadian workplaces.
• As a partner of the #ImmigrantsWork Initiative, the Region of Durham is working to localize the playbook for Durham’s labour market. If you want to be a part of the #Immigrants Work in Durham Region Initiative, please contact Sarah Hickman, Policy Advisor with the Region’s Department of Planning and Economic Development at
• Learn more about why Immigration Matters to Canada and to Canada’s business sector.
• To learn more about services and supports available to newcomers in Durham, please visit the Durham Immigration Portal.


Sonia Salomone, Manager, Business Development and Investment, Region of Durham
Sarah Hickman, Policy Advisor, Diversity & Immigration, Region of Durham