By John R. Moodie
Prince Edward-Hastings MPP Todd Smith has a new job.
Ontario Conservative opposition leader Tim Hudak has appointed Smith as the party’s point-man on citizenship and immigration.
“I am excited about it. It’s going to be a very busy job. I am going to spending a lot of time in our multicultural capital of Ontario, which is right here in the GTA. It is a challenge I am really looking forward to,” said Smith.
As opposition critic for immigration and citizenship, Smith said it is important that Ontario have a strategic plan in regards to immigration.
“We’re going to have a shortage of a million skilled trades. A million skilled trades’ jobs we are just going to be unable to fill over the next 10 years by using people that already live in Ontario,” said Smith.
Smith said these jobs would need to be filled through immigration.
“We want to make sure that people coming to Ontario are going to fill a hole in a job that isn’t already available for Ontarians to fill,” said Smith.
He said the government should be making sure the people we are bringing into Ontario from outside are actually creating growth and not being a drag on the economy.
He added it is important to ensure new immigrants add to the success of the province.
“Not just opening the doors to everyone, but making sure they are going to fill some kind of role in the future of Ontario’s prosperity,” said Smith.
One program he would like see given more emphasis is the Provincial Nominee Program.
The nominee program is a partnership between government and employers to recruit people from abroad to fill skilled trade positions. The program was designed to assist employers who found it challenging to recruit skilled workers from outside Canada.
“Unfortunately, what we have seen in the past five to six years is the erosion of programs like this because the government is broke,” said Smith.
He said he has seen this in his own riding. Quinte United Immigrant Services have seen cuts because the Ontario provincial government hasn’t balanced the budget, he added
“The first thing we need to do is get our budget back to balance and not nickel and dime programs like Quinte United Immigrant Services.”
“They are doing as good a job as they possibly can with the limited budget they have.”
Smith said there are real opportunities in his riding of Prince Edward-Hastings.
“I think the opportunity is there. We just want to make sure when they come to the Quinte area that they have the supports in place so they can thrive and survive and become valuable citizens in our community.”