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Immigrant joblessness narrows to 6.4% as Canada looks to newcomers to build workforce

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The employment gap between immigrants and Canadian-born workers is narrowing, as employers increasingly rely on newcomers to fill jobs, new research from Statistics Canada shows.

The federal research agency found 78.9 per cent of newcomers aged 25 to 54 are in the workforce, compared to 84 per cent of people who are Canadian-born.

The unemployment rate for core working-age immigrants in 2017 was 6.4 per cent, the lowest since 2006 when Statistics Canada first began tracking employment among newcomers through its Labour Force Survey.

The comparable jobless rate among Canadian-born workers is five per cent.

Statistics Canada defines core working age as 25 to 54, a time when individuals in are most likely to have finished their schooling and not yet retired from the workforce.

Canada has an aging workforce, with the large baby boom population moving into retirement age and fewer young people available to take up jobs.

Relying on immigrant workers

In 2017, 26 per cent of Canada’s total workforce of core working-age were landed immigrants.

Statistics Canada says first generation immigrants will make up an increasingly important part of the workforce over the next decade.

By 2036, it projects the share of immigrants in Canada’s population would stand between 24.5 per cent and 30 per cent and Canada will be competing with other industrial countries for a share of young, skilled workers.

Most of the growth in the workforce between 2016 and 2017 was accounted for by immigrants of core working age and Canadian-born workers aged 55 and older.

From 2016 to 2017, which was a good year in Canada for generating jobs, 87,000 new immigrants joined the workforce, compared to 59,000 new Canadian-born workers.

The employment-rate gap between immigrants and the Canadian-born has narrowed for three consecutive years, and was lower than the national average in Manitoba and Alberta.

Newcomers who have been here 10 years or longer are most likely to have full-time employment. Still 65.2 per cent of those who came within the last five years were working.

Many people relate tales of struggling in their first few years in Canada, but the figures seem to indicate they eventually find work, though perhaps not in the field they prefer.

Newcomers are more likely to have low-paying jobs in the accommodation and food industries, but are also one third of the workforce in high-paying industries such as finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing services, as well as professional, scientific and technical services.

Filipinos have better employment levels than Canadians

The highest employment rates were among immigrants from the Philippines, with 88.5 per cent of them having jobs, a better rate of employment than the Canadian-born population.

Statistics Canada attributes this to high levels of education among Filipino immigrants, as well as strong English skills and a school system closely related to the North-American system.

Immigrants born in Africa had less success in the job market with 72.5 per cent of them employed. They make up about 10 per cent of Canada’s immigrant labour force aged 25 to 54.

This group may have more difficulty because a lot of them come to Canada as refugees and are likely to have less support, including family support, in their early years in Canada, the federal agency said.

Immigrant women are also less likely to be employed than men — with 72 per cent of them in the workforce, compared with 82 per cent of Canadian-born women in the core age group.

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‘Business as usual’ for Dorel Industries after terminating go-private deal

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MONTREAL — Dorel Industries Inc. says it will continue to pursue its business strategy going forward after terminating an agreement to go private after discussions with shareholders.

« Moving ahead. Business as usual, » a spokesman for the company said in an email on Monday.

A group led by Cerberus Capital Management had previously agreed to buy outstanding shares of Dorel for $16 apiece, except for shares owned by the family that controls the company’s multiple-voting shares.

But Dorel chief executive Martin Schwartz said the Montreal-based maker of car seats, strollers, bicycles and home furniture pulled the plug on a deal on the eve of Tuesday’s special meeting after reviewing votes from shareholders.

“Independent shareholders have clearly expressed their confidence in Dorel’s future and the greater potential for Dorel as a public entity, » he said in a news release.

Dorel’s board of directors, with Martin Schwartz, Alan Schwartz, Jeffrey Schwartz and Jeff Segel recused, unanimously approved the deal’s termination upon the recommendation of a special committee.

The transaction required approval by two-thirds of the votes cast, and more than 50 per cent of the votes cast by non-family shareholders.

Schwartz said enhancing shareholder value remains a top priority while it stays focused on growing its brands, which include Schwinn and Mongoose bikes, Safety 1st-brand car seats and DHP Furniture.

Dorel said the move to end the go-private deal was mutual, despite the funds’ increased purchase price offer earlier this year.

It said there is no break fee applicable in this case.

Montreal-based investment firm Letko, Brosseau & Associates Inc. and San Diego’s Brandes Investment Partners LP, which together control more than 19 per cent of Dorel’s outstanding class B subordinate shares voiced their opposition to the amended offer, which was increased from the initial Nov. 2 offer of $14.50 per share.

« We believe that several minority shareholders shared our opinion, » said Letko vice-president Stephane Lebrun, during a phone interview.

« We are confident of the long-term potential of the company and we have confidence in the managers in place.”

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Anglais

Pandemic funds helping Montreal businesses build for a better tomorrow

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Many entrepreneurs have had to tap into government loans during the pandemic, at first just to survive, but now some are using the money to better prepare their businesses for the post-COVID future.

One of those businesses is Del Friscos, a popular family restaurant in Dollard-des-Ormeaux that, like many Montreal-area restaurants, has had to adapt from a sit-down establishment to one that takes orders online for takeout or delivery.

“It was hard going from totally in-house seating,” said Del Friscos co-owner Terry Konstas. “We didn’t have an in-house delivery system, which we quickly added. There were so many of our employees that were laid off that wanted to work so we adapted to a delivery system and added platforms like Uber and DoorDash.”

Helping them through the transition were emergency grants and low-interest loans from the federal and provincial governments, some of which are directly administered by PME MTL, a non-profit business-development organization established to assist the island’s small and medium-sized businesses.

Konstas said he had never even heard of PME MTL until a customer told him about them and when he got in touch, he discovered there were many government programs available to help his business get through the downturn and build for the future. “They’ve been very helpful right from day one,” said Konstas.

“We used some of the funds to catch up on our suppliers and our rents, the part that wasn’t covered from the federal side, and we used some of it for our new virtual concepts,” he said, referring to a virtual kitchen model which the restaurant has since adopted.

The virtual kitchen lets them create completely different menu items from the casual American Italian dishes that Del Friscos is known for and market them under different restaurant brand names. Under the Prasinó Soup & Salad banner, they sell healthy Greek options and their Stallone’s Sub Shop brand offers hearty sandwiches, yet the food from both is created in the same Del Friscos kitchen.

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Anglais

Downtown Montreal office, retail vacancies continue to rise

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Some of downtown Montreal’s key economic indicators are heading in the wrong direction.

Office and retail vacancies in the city’s central core continued to climb in the fourth quarter of 2020, according to a quarterly report released Thursday by the Urban Development Institute of Quebec and the Montréal Centre-Ville merchants association. The report, whose first edition was published in October, aims to paint a socio-economic picture of the downtown area.

The survey also found office space available for sublet had increased during the fourth quarter, which may foreshadow even more vacancies when leases expire. On the residential front, condo sales fell as new listings soared — a sign that the downtown area may be losing some of its appeal to homeowners.

“It’s impossible not to be preoccupied by the rapid increase in office vacancies,” Jean-Marc Fournier, the former Quebec politician who now heads the UDI, said Thursday in an interview.

Still, with COVID-19 vaccinations set to accelerate in the coming months, “the economic picture is bound to improve,” he said. “People will start returning downtown. It’s much too early to say the office market is going to disappear.”

Public health measures implemented since the start of the pandemic almost a year ago — such as caps on office capacity — have deprived downtown Montreal of more than 500,000 workers and students. A mere 4,163 university and CEGEP students attended in-person classes in the second quarter, the most recent period for which figures are available. Border closures and travel restrictions have also brought tourism to a standstill, hurting hotels and thousands of local businesses.

Seventy per cent of downtown workers carried out their professional activities at home more than three days a week during the fourth quarter, the report said, citing an online survey of 1,000 Montreal-area residents conducted last month.

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