The New Economy LIVE series kicked off on February 11 with what will be a monthly gathering providing greater insight into Calgary in the New Economy, the city’s economic strategy.
Held at the Centre For Newcomers, the inaugural event hosted a panel of experts to discuss how every Calgarian, no matter where in the world they have roots, contributes to the strengthening of place - one of the four pillars of a strong economy.
The panelists included Hyder Hassan, CEO of Immigrant Services Calgary, Anila Lee Yuen, President & CEO, Centre For Newcomers, Maurino Pacheco, Director, Indigenous Solutions at Team Calgary partner Bowen. The panel discussion reiterated that newcomers are confronted with both unique challenges and opportunities upon arrival to Calgary.
Barriers to greater inclusion can leave newcomers feeling uncomfortable in their new country and unable to participate in the economy as contributors to its prosperity. Foreign credentials are not always properly recognized and therefore not properly utilized. Newcomers, on average, make only 70 per cent as much as Canadian-born workers in their first year of employment. This loss of belonging can lead to disenfranchised individuals and may result in struggles that deplete resources and take away from communal benefits.
For these reasons, Calgary Economic Development has undertaken greater collaboration with settlement agencies to ensure newcomer talent feels at home here.
“While often viewed as necessary services for new Canadians in need of assistance, we believe settlement agencies can and should also be viewed as talent incubators,” says Jason Ribeiro, Director of Strategy, Calgary Economic Development.
Nearly 30 per cent of Calgarians are immigrants. This is a substantial population that brings with it a diverse perspective and added skillset to Calgary’s workforce. After years of robust population growth and a steady influx of newcomers, Calgary is now Canada’s third most ethnically diverse major city.
“This is important because professional, economic, social and cultural integration of new and ethnocultural Canadians in Calgary is a key element in advancing Calgary in the New Economy,” says Hubba Khatoon, Economist, Calgary Economic Development. “As employers, employees, consumers and curators of international experiences, new Canadians help build communities and advance connections in emerging markets.”
By reducing the barriers newcomers face through providing better resources, settlement plans and opportunities for greater inclusion, the workforce can reap the benefits of ethnocultural diversity. With every newcomer comes an opportunity to be employed or to employ others. They provide perspective, experience and added skill sets that fill critical talent gaps in our local economy.
“It is unjust to put up a barrier against a person based on their country of birth,” says featured presenter Robert Falconer, Policy Researcher, School of Public Policy. “We need wider reaching and more encompassing conversations at every level of the community around newcomers and the economic impacts that accompany them.”
“At the end of the day, it’s about partnerships. It’s about how we can work together,” adds Pacheco.
Throughout the remainder of 2020, a New Economy LIVE event will be held in the community each month with a focus on one of the four pillars - place, innovation, talent or business environment. Find the latest event information on our Events page.