OTTAWA, ON. – The Chamber addressed the House of Commons Committee on International Trade. The President of CPCC Wojciech Śniegowski was accompanied by CPCC corporate member Andrew Sochaj President of Cyclone MFG. Inc.
The CPCC was invited to appear in front of the House of Commons Committee on International Trade to testify about the issues affecting export from Canada. Other than the shortage of skilled labour and the need for a new immigration program President Wojciech Śniegowski addressed the requirement of simple instruction of how to take advantage of CETA and working together with colleges to train people in trades that are actually needed.
The President’s Speech:
Mr. Chair and Committee Members,
Thank you for inviting the Canada-Poland Chamber of Commerce of Toronto (CPCC) to speak to you today.
The CPCC is dedicated to the promotion, development and expansion of business, trade and investment opportunities between Canada and Poland, as well as to the development of relationships and networking opportunities with other ethnic business organizations in Canada in support of its members.
The Canada-Poland Chamber of Commerce of Toronto (CPCC) was incorporated on June 21, 1994.
This date is significant because it also coincided with the arrival of the last large wave of Polish immigration to Canada.
During the end of 1980-ties and the beginning of the 1990-ties, some 100,000 Polish people settled in Canada.
Since then, economic activity throughout the Polish community has flourished. Canada;s Polish community now numbers almost 1 million, and the latest Polish-Canadian business directory lists 5,000 direct-to-consumer businesses.
This directory does not include the many more Polish-Canadian manufacturing, construction or transportation companies that operate on a business-to-business basis.
Unfortunately, the continued prosperity of these companies is currently in doubt. The limited availability of skilled workers is a serious hindrance for many of them.
While Canada’s immigration policies are theoretically designed to address workforce shortages, existing programs are insufficient when it comes to addressing the current crisis.
Organisations like ours have regularly raised these concerns in our discussions with public officials, but the Canada-Poland Chamber of Commerce does not believe in raising a problem without also offering a solution.
The CPCC is well connected to a large network of businesses around the world. By way of this network, we can help to identify sources of qualified skilled labour for potential immigration to Canada.
In particular, there are thousands of qualified Polish and other Eastern Europeans who currently reside and work in the United Kingdom. As a result of the uncertainty surrounding the ongoing ‘Brexit’ negotiations, many of these 2 million EU citizens feel that their future is in question.
However, this situation presents a great opportunity for Canada.
A prudently designed immigration program would assist businesses in Canada’s Polish community, as well as other Canadian businesses, in gaining access to this highly educated and trained, the English-speaking workforce in a timely manner.
The Canada-Poland Chamber of Commerce is ready and willing to serve as a credible partner of the Government of Canada in facilitating such an initiative.
It is important to underscore that throughout the history of immigration to Canada, there have been many examples of community organisations being engaged in the process, including by assisting immigration authorities in the processing of thousands of immigration applications.
I would like to tell you about one example that I was involved in personally. Shortly after the declaration of Martial Law in Poland in 1981, the Canadian Polish Congress entered into a sponsorship agreement with Canada’s Immigration Department to facilitate the immigration of people fleeing persecution under the then-Communist regime in Poland.
This program was extremely successful. The Toronto Branch of the Canadian Polish Congress, which helped to administer it, successfully sponsored around 30,000 people between 1987 and 1991 alone.
We would recommend that such a program be considered today as an easy way of filling the urgent skills gap in our labour force.
We are deeply invested in the continued well-being of both Canada’s Polish community and of the Canadian business community as a whole.
That is why we stand ready to do our part in securing a skilled workforce that will benefit Canadian businesses, strengthen the economy and expand international trade.
Canada-Poland Chamber of Commerce