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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 Group.

"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 said.

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, including:

  • 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 institutions, etc.

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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Media contact:
Jackie Braden, (416) 974-2124


Jump To
Capitalizing on Canada's diversity is key to nation's future prosperity
The Diversity Advantage:
A Case for Canada’s 21st Century Economy

(pdf 23 pages, 180kb)
Canada must fully leverage diversity if living standards are to grow, according to RBC's Nixon
The Diversity Advantage: Remarks by Gord Nixon
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