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Hamilton Economic Development

Hamilton talks immigration strategy at UN

Photo of Sarah Wayland, senior project lead for Global HamiltonHamilton was the only Canadian city among global metropolises talking about their immigration strategies at a recent meeting hosted in New York City by the United Nations.

The discussion last week included national governments and international and national agencies, along with representatives from New York City, Barcelona and Quito, Ecuador, said Sarah Wayland, the senior project lead for the Global Hamilton initiative. She represented the city at the event.

Global Hamilton is a project within the city’s economic development department that focuses on helping the city attract and support skilled and entrepreneurial immigrants and international students, and on educating the community about why that makes economic sense.

Wayland says as far as she knows, Hamilton’s initiative — established in September 2012 — is unique in Canada.

“The bigger cities like Toronto don’t have to worry about immigrant attraction … but for cities like Hamilton, it’s critical to economic growth.”

She says immigrants are more likely to be business owners who hire others and immigration will play a crucial role as Hamilton tries to reach its 2035 growth targets of 660,000 residents and 300,000 jobs.

“Immigrants go where the opportunities are. If they’re not coming to Hamilton, they either don’t know of the opportunities here or there are no opportunities.”

Wayland says immigration used to be seen as a competition between nations, but that’s shifting to a fight for immigrants among cities. Just over 91 per cent of immigrants to Canada live in cities of more than 100,000 people, compared to 66 per cent of Canada’s overall population.

But cities have little say in immigration policy.

“Immigration is under the jurisdiction of national governments but cities are on the front lines in receiving immigrants who need to find places to live, schools for their kids and employment.”

That’s part of the reason Wayland was invited to the United Nations gathering to share Hamilton’s story.

“The intergovernmental and international agencies have the big picture, but they wanted to hear what’s going on, on the ground,” she said.

Wayland also met with the Canadian Consulate General in New York and the Canadian Mission to the United Nations, both of whom meet with international investors interested in Canada.

The forum was hosted by the World Bank, the United Nations Institute for Training and Research, and the Joint Migration and Development Initiative under the auspices of the Office of the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Migration.

Article courtesy of Meredith MacLeod, The Hamilton Spectator

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