A strong majority of Brandon residents say that increased immigration has had a positive effect on the community.
The results of a survey released today by Economic Development Brandon reaffirm results from the past five years.
Some 72 per cent of people asked said that international immigrants to Brandon had a positive effect on the city. That's up from the last three years, when positive feelings were in 62–64 per cent range.
About one-sixth of the city felt that immigration had no net effect. Less than one in 10 felt that immmigration was a negative.
"The welcoming of newcomers is essential to continued economic prosperity and growth in Brandon," said Sandy Trudel, the city's economic development direector. "This vibrant new segment of our population is largely responsible for positioning Brandon as a community whose population growth is on par with large centres across Canada — 11 per cent growth during the last census — and one that is bucking the national aging trend, as our population is actually getting younger."
The wave of immigration is largely due to labour shortages, something that the Brandon Chamber of Commerce says hasn't yet eased.
Many local companies have found skilled workers from other countries to fill vacancies. And, with foreign-born residents making up a larger percentage of the city's population, service-oriented companies like banks are making a concerted effort to diversify their hires.
"(We've) had to make changes to our business model to mirror the community we serve," said Colin Romano, manager of the Brandon branch of RBC Royal Bank. "We have Mandarin, Portuguese, Filipino and Spanish-speaking staff and we have had to as an organization have a deeper understanding and awareness of diversity, inclusion and cultural awareness issues."
For some companies, international newcomers play a pivotal role in increasing the workforce.
"The newcomers not only bring the necessary skills, they also bring a different perspective helping us think ‘outside of the box,’" said Atom Jet Industries' owner Barry LaRocque.
"(They) have integrated themselves … exceptionally well," adds Ron Bridges, plant manager at Denray Tire. "This has been a very positive experience."
The survey was conducted by Probe Research on behalf of Economic Development Brandon.