home-icon
 
contact-us-icon
 
directory-icon
 
search-icon
 
login-icon
 
join-now-icon
 
social facebook
 
social twitter
 
social linkedin
 
social youtube
 
 
Instagram Icon30
 

home-icon contact-us-icon directory-icon search-icon

login-icon join-now-icon

social facebook social linkedin social youtube Instagram Icon30

Preparations​ ​are​ ​in​ ​their​ ​final​ ​stages​ ​for​ ​Fredericton​ ​to​ ​host​ ​the​ ​2017​ ​Canadian​ ​Chamber​ ​of​ ​Commerce annual​ ​general​ ​meeting​ ​and​ ​conference.​ ​Conferences​ ​are​ ​big​ ​business.​ ​On​ ​average,​ ​one​ ​delegate​ ​of​ ​a national​ ​conference​ ​provides​ ​$324​ ​of​ ​economic​ ​impact​ ​for​ ​​everyday​ ​that​ ​they​ ​are​ ​in​ ​the​ ​city​ ​-​ ​money going​ ​to​ ​our​ ​local​ ​hotels,​ ​restaurants,​ ​local​ ​shops,​ ​taxis,​ ​tourist​ ​attractions​ ​and​ ​more.​ ​The​ ​Canadian chamber​ ​estimates​ ​that​ ​the​ ​economic​ ​impact​ ​on​ ​Fredericton​ ​over​ ​the​ ​course​ ​of​ ​the​ ​six​ ​days​ ​(including the​ ​preceding​ ​Canadian​ ​Chamber​ ​Executives​ ​of​ ​Canada​ ​conference)​ ​will​ ​be​ ​nearly​ ​$1​ ​million.​ ​Beyond​ ​the direct​ ​economic​ ​impact,​ ​this​ ​conference​ ​is​ ​an​ ​opportunity​ ​for​ ​the​ ​region​ ​and​ ​the​ ​province​ ​to​ ​show​ ​what it​ ​has​ ​to​ ​offer​ ​to​ ​national​ ​business​ ​leaders​ ​and​ ​decision​ ​makers.

It​ ​is​ ​also​ ​a​ ​chance​ ​to​ ​influence​ ​national​ ​policy-making​ ​-​ ​with​ ​the​ ​national​ ​chamber​ ​and​ ​the​ ​federal government.​ ​The​ ​centrepiece​ ​of​ ​the​ ​conference​ ​is​ ​the​ ​policy​ ​debates,​ ​where​ ​resolutions​ ​submitted​ ​by local​ ​chambers​ ​from​ ​across​ ​the​ ​country​ ​will​ ​be​ ​debated​ ​by​ ​the​ ​delegates​ ​in​ ​attendance.​ ​The​ ​Fredericton chamber​ ​has​ ​submitted​ ​a​ ​resolution​ ​that,​ ​if​ ​adopted​ ​by​ ​the​ ​federal​ ​government,​ ​will​ ​give​ ​international students​ ​more​ ​options​ ​to​ ​gain​ ​work​ ​experience​ ​during​ ​their​ ​studies​ ​and​ ​increase​ ​the​ ​time​ ​that​ ​have post-graduation​ ​to​ ​establish​ ​a​ ​career​ ​in​ ​Canada​ ​-​ ​including​ ​access​ ​to​ ​the​ ​Canada​ ​Summer​ ​Jobs​ ​program. These​ ​changes​ ​will​ ​make​ ​it​ ​more​ ​likely​ ​that​ ​these​ ​students​ ​will​ ​connect​ ​with​ ​businesses​ ​and​ ​the​ ​city generally​ ​-​ ​ultimately​ ​putting​ ​down​ ​roots​ ​in​ ​our​ ​community.​ ​The​ ​full,​ ​detailed​ ​resolution​ ​can​ ​be​ ​found​ ​on our​ ​website​ ​at​ ​​www.frederictonchamber.ca​.

Jurisdictions​ ​across​ ​Canada​ ​are​ ​searching​ ​for​ ​ways​ ​to​ ​attract​ ​and​ ​retain​ ​more​ ​international​ ​students.​ ​A significant​ ​impediment​ ​to​ ​these​ ​efforts​ ​are​ ​policies​ ​that​ ​make​ ​it​ ​more​ ​difficult​ ​for​ ​these​ ​students​ ​to​ ​obtain work​ ​experience​ ​while​ ​attending​ ​Canadian​ ​post-secondary​ ​institutions​ ​or​ ​immediately​ ​after​ ​graduation. These​ ​restrictions​ ​have​ ​both​ ​(a)​ ​legal​ ​ramifications:​ ​example:​ ​permanent​ ​residency​ ​/​ ​citizenship requirements;​ ​and​ ​(b)​ ​practical​ ​implications:​ ​example:​ ​connecting​ ​with​ ​the​ ​student’s​ ​host​ ​community, making​ ​post-graduation​ ​career​ ​contacts,​ ​and​ ​gaining​ ​work​ ​experience​ ​-​ ​which​ ​employers​ ​are​ ​increasingly demanding​ ​from​ ​graduates.​ ​The​ ​issue​ ​is​ ​particularly​ ​acute​ ​in​ ​Atlantic​ ​Canada,​ ​where​ ​retention​ ​rates​ ​hover around​ ​40%​ ​for​ ​international​ ​students.    

Immigration​ ​has​ ​been​ ​long​ ​been​ ​identified​ ​as​ ​a​ ​key​ ​component​ ​to​ ​present​ ​and​ ​future​ ​growth.​ ​This​ ​was borne​ ​out​ ​in​ ​the​ ​latest​ ​census​ ​data:​ ​Canada​ ​added​ ​approximately​ ​1.7​ ​million​ ​people​ ​between​ ​2011​ ​and 2016,​ ​with​ ​two-thirds​ ​of​ ​this​ ​increase​ ​attributable​ ​to​ ​immigration.  

The​ ​timing​ ​of​ ​a​ ​renewed​ ​Canadian​ ​effort​ ​to​ ​become​ ​a​ ​destination​ ​of​ ​choice​ ​for​ ​international​ ​students​ ​may never​ ​be​ ​better.​ ​With​ ​nationalist​ ​sentiments​ ​emerging​ ​and​ ​anti-globalist​ ​governments​ ​assuming​ ​control​ ​in some​ ​of​ ​Canada’s​ ​top​ ​competitors​ ​for​ ​international​ ​students,​ ​we​ ​are​ ​in​ ​a​ ​position​ ​to​ ​capitalize​ ​on​ ​the increasingly​ ​attractive​ ​quality​ ​of​ ​Canadian​ ​post-secondary​ ​education.​ ​Post-secondary​ ​institutions​ ​have recognized​ ​this​ ​opportunity​ ​and​ ​are​ ​redoubling​ ​their​ ​efforts​ ​to​ ​attract​ ​more​ ​international​ ​students​ ​to​ ​their schools.​ ​The​ ​Advisory​ ​Panel​ ​on​ ​Canada’s​ ​International​ ​Education​ ​Strategy​ ​states​ ​“International​ ​students in​ ​Canada​ ​provide​ ​immediate​ ​and​ ​significant​ ​economic​ ​benefits​ ​to​ ​Canadians​ ​in​ ​every​ ​region​ ​of​ ​the country.”​ ​The​ ​panel​ ​advocates​ ​for​ ​a​ ​doubling​ ​of​ ​the​ ​number​ ​of​ ​international​ ​students​ ​studying​ ​in​ ​Canada over​ ​the​ ​span​ ​of​ ​a​ ​decade,​ ​from​ ​just​ ​under​ ​240,000​ ​in​ ​2011​ ​to​ ​over​ ​450,000​ ​in​ ​2022.

Global​ ​Affairs​ ​Canada​ ​estimates​ ​that​ ​international​ ​students​ ​spent​ ​$11.4​ ​billion​ ​on​ ​tuition,​ ​accommodation and​ ​discretionary​ ​spending​ ​in​ ​2014,​ ​creating​ ​almost​ ​125,000​ ​jobs​ ​across​ ​the​ ​country.​ ​At​ ​this​ ​time​ ​they represented​ ​about​ ​9%​ ​of​ ​the​ ​college​ ​student​ ​population​ ​and​ ​8.8%​ ​of​ ​the​ ​undergraduate​ ​student population​ ​in​ ​Canada​ ​-​ ​leaving​ ​room​ ​for​ ​significant​ ​growth​.

That​ ​international​ ​students​ ​are​ ​allowed​ ​to​ ​work​ ​at​ ​all​ ​in​ ​the​ ​country​ ​is​ ​a​ ​relatively​ ​new​ ​development. Following​ ​a​ ​pilot​ ​program​ ​offering​ ​a​ ​work​ ​permit​ ​to​ ​international​ ​students​ ​at​ ​select​ ​institutions​ ​in​ ​Alberta, the​ ​Government​ ​of​ ​Canada​ ​formalized​ ​this​ ​work​ ​permit​ ​option​ ​in​ ​2006.​ ​As​ ​a​ ​result,​ ​international​ ​students were​ ​allowed​ ​to​ ​work​ ​up​ ​to​ ​20​ ​hours​ ​per​ ​week​ ​while​ ​in-study​ ​and​ ​full-time​ ​during​ ​study​ ​breaks,​ ​such​ ​as winter​ ​or​ ​summer​ ​holidays.​ ​However,​ ​these​ ​rules​ ​only​ ​apply​ ​to​ ​full-time​ ​students;​ ​part-time​ ​international students​ ​are​ ​still​ ​ineligible​ ​to​ ​work​ ​in​ ​Canada.

The​ ​implications​ ​for​ ​business​ ​and​ ​the​ ​economy​ ​are​ ​clear.​ ​The​ ​country​ ​needs​ ​the​ ​next​ ​generation​ ​of consumers​ ​to​ ​sustain​ ​growth​ ​and​ ​the​ ​next​ ​generation​ ​of​ ​taxpayers​ ​to​ ​support​ ​our​ ​aging​ ​population. Businesses​ ​need​ ​skilled​ ​workers​ ​to​ ​innovate​ ​and​ ​grow.​ ​The​ ​2015​ ​Top​ ​10​ ​Barriers​ ​document​ ​reports​ ​that the​ ​persistent​ ​skills​ ​gap​ ​costs​ ​$24​ ​billion​ ​per​ ​year​ ​in​ ​Ontario​ ​alone.​ ​Increasing​ ​the​ ​number​ ​of​ ​international students​ ​at​ ​Canadian​ ​institutions​ ​represents​ ​an​ ​opportunity​ ​to​ ​address​ ​all​ ​of​ ​these​ ​concerns,​ ​but​ ​the employment​ ​restrictions​ ​detailed​ ​above​ ​are​ ​a​ ​barrier​ ​to​ ​fully​ ​realizing​ ​Canada’s​ ​potential​ ​as​ ​a​ ​destination of​ ​choice.

Krista Ross is CEO of the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce. With more than 950 members, the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce is one of Atlantic Canada’s largest chambers of commerce. A dynamic business organization, the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce is actively engaged in policy development that affects the competitiveness of our members and of the Canadian business environment. It’s vision is Community Prosperity Through Business.