Source: The Globe and Mail

For years Canada has easily met its immigration targets. But getting the right immigrant mix to ease Canada's demographic dilemma will require a more aggressive effort to court potential migrants – while in competition with other countries with shortages of skilled labour. Steps can be taken in both the private and public sectors to establish more of a presence abroad, offer incentives, promote Canada's image and set up information and support networks.

1-Contest: To find clean-technology innovators to do business in Nova Scotia, Innovacorp ran a competition. The prize included $100,000. A local company won, but the competition created links with global innovators, including a Dutch company now negotiating a move to the province. 

2-Job fairs: In a recent example of this widely used approach, Saskatchewan took a contingent of immigration specialists and employers to Ireland in March to help recruit highly skilled workers. The team attended job fairs in Dublin and Cork and at last count, employers had extended offers for 282 positions.

3-Overseas recruitment: Last summer, Winkler, Manitoba, set up an office in Berlin to interview potential immigrants who were interested in setting up small businesses, but who had no personal contacts in the province and weren't able to make an exploratory visit. They interviewed applicants from more than 10 countries from as far away as Latvia and Kazakhstan. The city of 11,000 is expecting the first wave from that trip to arrive this summer.

4-Supportive networking: The Professional Immigrant Networks (PINs) website is designed to create connections between immigrants, employers and community agencies, such as the Chinese Professionals Association of Canada or the Latin American MBA Alumni Network. The website launched on Feb. 9, 2012 in association with the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council.

5-Promoting Canada's potential: C100 brings successful Canadian expatriates together with IT and start-up professionals. This non-profit, member-driven organization puts Canadian ingenuity on display at their conferences and events, exposing tech entrepreneurs to the burgeoning talent and business potential in Canada. 

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