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Creating a better future for communities through research

Immigrant Skills Summit

Date: Thursday April 28, 2005
Registration & Breakfast: 7:30 a.m.
Proceedings: 8:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
Location: Lutherwood Great Hall, The Sunshine Centre. 139 Father David Bauer Dr., Waterloo
Keynote: Mary Anne Chambers
Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities



On April 28, 2005 Waterloo Region held an Immigrant Skills Summit.

The Summit was a half-day event that brought together a cross section of 175 community members including: business/labour leaders, politicians, civil servants, educational institutions, community-based organizations and immigrant groups.

The Summit developed a local Waterloo Region strategy to make sure that immigrant skills are more optimally used to the benefit of immigrants and their families, our economy and our community as a whole.

The Summit built on the immense work of those in Waterloo Region who have long pointed out the loss associated with the underutilization of immigrant skills.

The Summit took advantage of the social and political momentum on this issue.

The Summit launched the Preparation Phase of forming a Waterloo Region Immigrant Employment Network.


Waterloo Region needs immigrants.

  • It is estimated that by 2011, Canada's entire net labour force growth will come from immigration.

  • Leading experts from all sectors of our society are stressing the importance of better integrating immigrant skills as a way to make our communities strong and vibrant.

  • Unfortunately, the reality is that immigrant skills - the very skills that we need - are not being used to their full potential.

In the end, we all lose.

  • Immigrants lose the opportunity to contribute productively to the economy, and to provide for themselves and their family. They lose the satisfaction of working in the area of their expertise and passion.

  • Other citizens also lose. They lose the chance to have the local economy and service sectors strengthened by the "brain gain" of immigrants. They lose the competitive edge in a global marketplace. And they lose the opportunity to demonstrate that our society does more than just talk about being a welcoming country; the envy of the world.

Waterloo Region has a proud history of welcoming newcomers to our community. Yet, our Region is also not realizing the potential brought by immigrants. Past research in our region has pointed out the need for local action. It is time to bring together leaders from our community to find ways to make better use of immigrant skills as a means of strengthening our community.

Community leaders agree:

"Canada's economic future is dependent on attracting highly educated and skilled people from other countries. We must create an environment that enables immigrants to be able to optimize their talents and skill sets."
- John Tibbits, President, Conestoga College

"There is a growing realization that the skills of many new immigrants are being lost to Canada through their inability to work in the fields for which they have been highly trained. This Summit is an opportunity to address how we all collectively might make quicker and better use of these skilled people who have chosen Canada to be their home."
- Ken Seiling, Regional Chair

"The Immigrant Skills Summit builds on work that we have been doing since 1987. We all benefit when we make good use of the enormous resources already available here at no cost. Skilled people, willing and able to work - imagine the possibilities!"
- Myrta Rivera, Executive Director, Multicultural Centre and Working for Work

"The McGuinty government is committed to working to integrate New Canadians into our economy and our communities. Local organizations are a key element in achieving this goal."
- John Milloy, MPP, Kitchener Centre

"Immigrants are drawn to our area and we benefit tremendously from the education and skills they bring. It is important that new Canadians have opportunities to put their talents to work in our community."
- Carl Zehr, Mayor, Kitchener

"Everyone should be as lucky as the staff at the New Canadian Program. Each day we hear accolades about this community from new immigrants, business friends and people from outside this Region. We should all be very proud of where we are today and where we are going in the future. This community is indeed a role model for the country."
- Marlene Kramer, Executive Director, New Canadian Program

"In our city, we know our diverse backgrounds make us stronger. The last census has shown us that immigration is not only a clear asset, a catalyst for our own population, but it is also a matter of survival. Statistics Canada tells us that immigration could account for virtually all labour-force growth in Canada by 2011."
- Karen Redman, MP Kitchener Centre

"Immigration will be a particularly vital component in labour force growth in Canada 's Technology Triangle in the coming years. The Immigrant Skills Summit provides a forum to begin to devise strategies that will help us to attract and welcome talented people whose skills and education meet the Waterloo Region's future work force requirements. The community needs to ensure that immigrant skills are more optimally used to the benefit of immigrants and their families, the economy and the community."
- John Tennant, CEO, Canada 's Technology Triangle, Inc.

"From a social planning perspective and through our work with the Cambridge YMCA Immigrant Services, we have seen an urgent need for trained immigrant professionals to be able to connect with employers who recognize their skills. I'm hoping to see that out of this summit there will be momentum towards creating an environment that will help immigrants to succeed in their new home."
- Linda Terry, Executive Director, Social Planning Council of Cambridge and North Dumfries

"Employing people and allowing people to exercise skills to the maximum extent possible not only improves their life but also enhances the life of our community. Brain waste is debilitating to us all."
- Andrew Telegdi, MP Kitchener-Waterloo

More information on the Summit 

To read more about this project, follow this link.

Summit Proceedings

In the News

Faces of the Future
The Record - September 3, 2005

Find Strengths in Differences...Profits Too
The Record - June 8, 2005

Skilled immigrants to get aid.
by Barbara Aggerholm
The Record - May 13/05

Attracting immigrant vital; Waterloo conference tells region to sell itself better to skilled people.
by Frank Etherington
The Record - April 29/05

Region of Waterloo hosts immigrant skills summit
The Waterloo Chronicle -
April 27/05

The high price of a new life; Skilled immigrants soon disillusioned when they can't find employment
by Liz Monteiro
The Record - April 2/05

Immigrant skills are focus of April summit
The Record - March 23/05

Region fades as migrant magnet
by Jeff Outhit
The Record - February 26/05

Immigrants with health skills get special aid
by Frank Etherington
The Record - January 29/05

Conference will focus on immigrants' skills
by Frank Etherington
The Record - January 20/05

The importance of immigration
by John Tennant
Business Times - January 20/05


Summit Sponsors

United Way of
and Area


The Kitchener and
Waterloo Community


Regional Municipality
of Waterloo


University of Waterloo


City of Kitchener

Waterloo-Wellington Training and Adjustment Board

Greater Kitchener-Waterloo
Chamber of Commerce




Conestoga College


Wilfrid Laurier University


Jennifer Roggemann Law Office


City of Cambridge