CICS in the Media: Executive Director Alfred Lam Interviewed for Article in The Globe and Mail's Report on Business

How to solve employment challenges for coming population boom (The Globe and Mail, October 21, 2022)

Here is an excerpt from the article:


As it stands, few immigrants are able to settle in those smaller communities for practical reasons.


“A lot of those communities don’t have the infrastructure in place to welcome newcomers,” says Alfred Lam, executive director of the Centre for Immigrant & Community Services (CICS). “On the surface it might be a good solution to the housing problem, but then you also have to take into account other needs like employment, and health-care supports, like can they find a family doctor that speaks their language?”


Mr. Lam says newcomers face many challenges that prevent them from fully contributing to the Canadian economy, and those problems are often intertwined. Solutions need to incorporate a range of factors all working together in tandem.


“We can give someone an absolutely fantastic workshop on resume writing, but when that person goes home and enters into a situation where there is domestic abuse, or mental health issues or they live with inadequate housing, that work isn’t going to go very far,” Mr. Lam says. “We have settlement services, we have employment supports, we have language training, all kinds of different pieces, but we need to be flexible enough to put them together in the right way at the right time for the right person, and that’s the work we have ahead of us.”


Mr. Lam adds that Canada has a lot of strengths when it comes to integrating newcomers into its economy, but he emphasizes that far too many fall through the cracks of piecemeal solutions and one-off programs.


“We can’t look at issues in isolation,” he says. “Everything needs to be done holistically – we need the entire system to be working hand-in-hand – and that’s the area where we need to improve the most.”