Canada must fully leverage diversity if living standards
are to grow, according to RBC's Nixon
Challenges government and business to raise the bar
TORONTO, October 20, 2005 —
Canada must do more to capitalize on immigration and unleash
the power of diversity if it wants to improve productivity
and increase its high standard of living according to Gordon
M. Nixon, president and chief executive officer of RBC Financial
"We believe that no country in the entire world stands
to gain as much economic benefit from diversity as Canada,"
said Nixon at the 10th Metropolis Conference, an international
gathering focused on diverse cities and hosted by Toronto
Mayor David Miller. "If we succeed, we will have an unrivalled
advantage. But the flipside is also true. If we fail, we will
pay a heavy cost in lost opportunity."
Nixon's remarks were based on a major economic study RBC
released today entitled: "The Diversity Advantage: A
Case for Canada's 21st Century Economy." The report,
which outlines a hard-hitting case for a national productivity
agenda, contains 22 recommendations ranging from tax and policy
reform to ways the country should capitalize on immigration,
gender and age diversity.
"We believe that Canada must target future workforce
challenges, not only by raising immigration targets in key
sectors, but also by making a concerted effort to release
the untapped potential in our current workforce," Nixon
The report highlights that new Canadians currently make up
about 70 per cent of the growth in the Canadian labour force,
and by 2011 will account for all the growth in Canada's workforce,
as Canada's population growth stagnates. While the government
is considering increasing the number of immigrants from its
current levels ranging from 220,000-245,000, the study recommends
raising its target to between 300,000 to 400,000 immigrants
per year, if Canada is to continue to grow its living standards.
However, Nixon stressed that building a twenty-first century
economy requires much more than just increased immigration.
He said Canada must also do a better job of identifying skill
shortages, recognizing foreign credentials, and integrating
all members of society into more productive roles.
To address the fiscal challenges of increased immigration,
including the additional demand for infrastructure, such as
transportation, healthcare, education and energy, in key urban
hubs across the country, the report makes a number of recommendations,
- Increase cooperation between the federal government, which
controls immigration policy, and the provinces, which control
certification across the professions and skilled trades.
- Provide more encouragement for immigrants to settle in
communities across Canada where there are labour shortages.
- Develop better ways to address foreign certification and
recognize foreign work experience of immigrants.
- Increase rates of participation in the workforce and improve
labour market opportunities by developing more innovative
work approaches such as phased maternity or paternity leaves,
job sharing, reduced hours, optional leaves of absence,
co-op work arrangements with post-secondary educational
According to a Statistics Canada survey, the integration
of immigrants is a key barrier to success. "It's no secret
that we don't have the best track record in this area,"
said Nixon. "Our most recent immigrants arrive in Canada
better educated and at similar stages in their careers as
those born in Canada, but evidence suggests that they have
not found jobs that match their skill levels, are earning
less than those born in Canada, or are experiencing higher
unemployment rates. This represents a direct hit to our economy."
Furthermore, according to the report, if foreign-born workers
were as successful in the Canadian workforce as those born
in the country, personal incomes would be about $13 billion
higher each year than at present. And if women had identical
labour market opportunities available to them as men, then
personal incomes would be $168 billion higher each year. All
told, if we achieved identical labour market outcomes for
men and women, regardless of their birthplace, then personal
incomes would be 21 per cent or $174 billion higher, and 1.6
million more working age Canadians would be employed.
For a copy of Nixon's speech and a full copy of the report,
please visit www.rbc.com/newsroom.
About RBC Financial Group
Royal Bank of Canada (TSX, NYSE: RY) uses the initials RBC
as a prefix for its businesses and operating subsidiaries,
which operate under the master brand name of RBC Financial
Group. Royal Bank of Canada is Canada's largest financial
institution as measured by market capitalization and assets,
and is one of North America's leading diversified financial
services companies. It provides personal and commercial banking,
wealth management services, insurance, corporate and investment
banking, and transaction processing services on a global basis.
The company employs 60,000 people who serve more than 14 million
personal, business and public sector clients through offices
in North America and some 30 countries around the world. For
more information, please visit www.rbc.com.
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Jackie Braden, (416) 974-2124