1. Introduction

The purpose of this paper is to provide some background information, future expectations and raise some important issues to help define the role of Canada’s Immigration Program in the context of Canada’s labour market.

One of the central goals of Canada’s immigration program is to promote economic development through labour-market participation. The expectation is that immigrants and workers who are in Canada temporarily will play a vital role given the twin demographic challenges on the horizon: the first being the retirement of a large number of baby boomers and second, a limited number of new participants who are coming from domestic sources. The central questions addressed in this paper, then, are how will the Canadian labour market evolve over the coming decade and what will be the role of the immigration program in this challenging environment?Footnote 1

Despite significant employment losses during the most recent slowdown of late-2008 and 2009, long-term forecasts continue to predict tightening in the Canadian labour market. However, what is less well known is what kind of jobs will be created (by industrial sector and occupation) and who will fill those jobs. An examination of the relationship between labour demand and supply can shed light on possible labour-market pressures and how the immigration program may be able to play a role in alleviating those strains. It is also important to consider alternative possibilities or risks to the outlook in order to make immigration policy considerations more robust vis-à-vis Canada’s future labour-market development.

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