Good afternoon and welcome, everybody, on this windy Monday in Ottawa. Anybody who has an umbrella still working is very fortunate. Most umbrellas got ripped this morning.
My name is Mark Eyking. I'm chair of the Standing Committee on International Trade. We are embarking on a study of multiculturalism and international trade, and this is our first meeting.
Welcome to our witnesses. I met you before we started. We're going to have a couple of meetings on this topic, which is very important because our country is made up of many different cultures and nationalities, and there's a connection, of course, between the people in this country and trade.
Without further ado, we'll get going. We'll give the witnesses roughly five minutes and then open up dialogue with the members.
We'll start with the Canada-Poland Chamber of Commerce. Go ahead, sir.
Mr. Chair and committee members, thank you very much for inviting the Canada-Poland Chamber of Commerce 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 the development of relationships and networking opportunities with other ethnic business organizations in Canada in support of our members.
The Canada-Poland Chamber of Commerce was incorporated on June 21, 1994. This date is significant because it coincided with the arrival of the last large wave of Polish immigrants to Canada. Between the end of the 1980s and the beginning of the 1990s, 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 one million, and the latest Polish-Canadian business directory lists about 5,000 direct-to-consumer businesses. This directory does not include the many more Polish Canadian manufacturing, construction, and transportation companies that operate on a business-to-business basis.
Unfortunately, the continuous prosperity of these companies is currently in doubt. The limited availability of skilled workers is a serious hindrance to 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. Organizations such as ours regularly raise 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 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 those two million EU citizens feel that their future is in question; however, the 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 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 organizations being engaged in the process, including by assisting immigration authorities in the processing of thousands of immigration applications. I was actually sponsored by the Canadian Polish Congress to come to Canada.
In 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, just one branch of the Canadian Polish Congress that helped administer it, successfully sponsored around 30,000 people between 1987 and 1991.
We would recommend that such a program, or a similar version of it, 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 communities and 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.
Cyclone Manufacturing was founded in 1964. It entered into the aerospace business in 1978. We are a vertically integrated company as a first-tier and second-tier supplier to all major aerospace customers. At the present time, we have 360,000 square feet of floor-space. Altogether, we have more than 100 CNC machines.
We are, I would say, one of the biggest privately owned companies in North America at the present time. We supply components all over the world: in America, or the United States, 23%; in Europe 32%; in Canada 37%; and in Asia 8%. We supply as far as Japan, China, Taiwan, Korea, South America, Brazil, and Europe, so basically all over the world.
Our major customers are Bombardier; Boeing; Triumph; AIDC; Israel Aerospace Industries, IAI; Embraer; Avcorp; ShinMaywa in Japan; Stelia; Saab in Sweden; Zodiac; MHI, Mitsubishi, in Japan; Spirit in the U.S. and France; FACC in Austria; and General Electric.
Again, I can talk about the European customers, which would be Bombardier, FACC, Saab, Stelia, and IAI in Israel. In North and South America it would be Bombardier, Lockheed Martin, Spirit, Triumph, Embraer, and Avcorp. In Asia it would be AIDC in Taiwan, MHI, AVIC, and ShinMaywa.
We produce components for all passenger airplanes, such as Airbus A320, A330, and A350; Boeing 777X, 737 MAX, and 787; Bombardier CRJ, CL-350, Global Express 5000 and 6000, Global Express 7000 and 8000, C Series, and Q400; Embraer; Gulfstream; Lockheed Martin; and so on.
We have four facilities in Ontario. Three facilities are in Mississauga and one is in Milton. A fifth facility is in Poland. Altogether it's 360,000 square feet. At the present time, we have 750 employees. We are expanding at roughly 15% a year. At year end 2017 we shipped $98 million Canadian. Next year we have to ship 15% more, so we have to hire 15% more employees, with 15% more floor space and 15% more equipment.
I believe we have more special processes—we have proof by our customers—than anybody else here in Canada at the present time. We are producing components like spars for a Dreamliner, 10 metres long, and small components as well, for the A350 Airbus and many other airplanes.
I'm going to skip some of this, I think. I have just a few minutes.
The majority of our components are mainly wing assemblies, like ribs. We have a contract for the A350 Airbus,14 spoilers on each wing. You'll see those on the landing. All of the wing tips on the 737s are produced at Cyclone.
Recently we have won many contracts for doors, especially from Boeing. Right now on the Dreamliner 787 and the 737 MAX 9, the pilot escape doors are made by Cyclone.
We are also making flight control systems. All the ribs produced for the 8050, leading edge and trailing edge, are produced at Cyclone.
We have major contracts on the Bombardier Global Express 7000. We are producing a leading edge for that airplane.
Going back to the question of what our problem is, it's skilled labour. Some 90% of our employees were not born in Canada. I wasn't born in Canada either; I arrived in 1978. Ten years later, in 1990, I bought the company.
We have 25 employees. Right now we are producing as much in two days as we used to produce in a year—and thank you very much; Canada is a great country, and I really appreciate it—obviously with Canadian government help. Without it, we couldn't do it.
What I can say is that we are working together with Poland right now. I set up a corporation in Poland, and I can see that regulations in Canada are really favourable. We have much fewer regulations than in Europe. I don't see any problems. I have to educate them in Poland. I have to educate customs. I have to educate everybody. We are breaking ground: we are something new.
Thank you very much. I appreciate and thank you for your invitation.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair and committee members, for the invitation and the opportunity to speak on this important issue today.
The British Canadian Chamber of Trade and Commerce was founded in 1951. It is based in Toronto, but we're just about to open an Ottawa branch, so it is expanding across the country. They currently have 100 members, and like my colleague here, they work very closely with several international partners, including the British American Business Council. It includes British chambers in the U.K. and U.S., which is a total of 30 chapters, plus the Council of British Chambers of Commerce in Europe, so it's a significant network.
In addition to being the founding member for the Ottawa chapter, I also have my own company, BTI Global Innovation. We provide consulting services to governments and individual companies for their international trade expansion and also for setting up and expanding in Canada.
With that, I'd like to hand over to my colleague, Karima-Catherine. Karima is here representing her own company, and also the board from the Toronto chapter.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Thank you to the witnesses for being here.
I have two questions, so what I'm going to do is just read them out, and then maybe get the panel's opinion on them.
You mentioned skilled labour challenges. Are there any recommendations you could make to the government with regard to immigration policy? Are there ways to improve the ability of ethnocultural communities to trade within different regions by improving our immigration policy? That's question one.
The other question is with regard to free trade agreements. I'm just wondering what your thoughts are. Do these free trade agreements help the ethnocultural communities facilitate trade around the world, and should we be pursuing more free trade agreements? If so, are there countries that you could recommend that would be priorities?
With that I'll be quiet. Maybe we can start with Mr. Sochaj and move across the panel.
As for immigration, I don't have a particular program in mind because I'm not too familiar with all of the programs right now. I know there are many different ones, but most of them, as far as skilled trades are concerned, involve an invitation from the particular business. That process is expensive. I think it's currently $3,000 just to get a confirmation of employment.
We have a big transport company that is in constant need of drivers, for example. It said that it wasn't going to spend $3,000 for somebody who, the next day, after immigrating to Canada, leaves for another employer. That makes no sense. It's a big company that hires about 300 drivers, so to them, this expense would become really prohibitive.
What I have in mind is that the chamber and other chambers—not necessarily only the Canada-Poland Chamber—assist in this process and get this evaluation themselves. I can give an example. The Polish Congress administered such a program, and it was extremely successful. As a result, as I mentioned, we had so many businesses that were created based on this wave of immigration. I don't want to pillage Great Britain when it comes to skilled trades, but there is uncertainty for those people. They don't really know what the rules are going to be after the Brexit negotiations conclude, so I think that creates a short window of opportunity to try to entice those people to come to Canada. We could be very helpful with that. We would, obviously, have to sit down with the department and talk about what's possible. We don't want to propose something that is not acceptable to the immigration department whatsoever.
I think there is a way of trying to work this out that benefits Canada. It's not just about Polish businesses, obviously. I've talked with members of the provincial Parliament and with Minister Sousa, and all of them confirmed that this is the number one issue that they're confronted with by businesses wherever they go around the province. I have to assume that you, ladies and gentlemen, have encountered similar problems, with business people talking to you about a shortage of labour.
I can give you a simple example. I have a—
Thank you, Mr. Chair, and thank you to the presenters.
As you all know, we have a very diverse multicultural country and all of us are immigrants, except for our indigenous peoples, so we have come from all over, no matter whether it was the British or the French who were our earliest settlers, or our newest settlers that we have coming in today. The international trade committee, when we signed CETA, was looking at opportunities to expand trade and to leverage that potential that we have with our multicultural communities, and the chambers of commerce that many of you are in front of. What we are trying to find is how to have the successes that we've heard from Andrew, who has had a great deal of success in terms of international trade, in terms of growing his business here, and what we can do from our side, through our Canadian export programs or the like. It could also be around immigration, in terms of bringing in that skilled labour, but from a government's perspective, how can we be of service to you to help expand those businesses?
It's one thing to sign a trade agreement, but it's another to see that come to life and to expand business. We've seen the success that Andrew has had with Cyclone, his manufacturing business, but we want to help others. You have forged the path.
We'll hear from the ladies first, because we just heard from the gentlemen, and then we'll move over to the Polish Chamber of Commerce.
Bernadette and Karima.
We don't do much. Our organization does mostly networking and facilitating, so we don't have resources to provide special courses to train newcomers.
I can tell you from my experience that there are two issues. The first one is adapting to the new country. I came from Poland with a master's degree in business administration and law and administration, and for the first three years I was a cab driver. It's the cliché of immigration to Canada. I'm not begrudging that. I think that was just a part of what I had to do, because my English was very poor, to adapt to the new country, and now there's no problem with that.
But you're absolutely right. There is this lack of coordination between a mass immigration and their skills set to what's actually needed in Canada. That's why I'm proposing something to try to, at least...part of immigration, based on the needs of Canada. Organizations like ours could be helpful in evaluating those jobs.
The example I wanted to give you is very simple, the very low-tech job of butcher. This guy, who is one of our members, is producing Polish sausages and so on. He has three butchers who are 65 years old. They're still willing to work, but God knows how long they can work. He's willing to give somebody $15,000 just to find him a butcher. He's that desperate. There's a real shortage. I'm not sure if we can train people in a short period of time, especially for such a simple job, but which requires certain cultural knowledge of how we prepare certain things.
Our solution is simple: import people who can do that job. They are available. There are almost two million European immigrants in Great Britain, and their future is uncertain. They're open to being solicited to come here. I think that's one thing.
Obviously, the colleges have a role to play in training, but I think it would be wise for them to also contact chambers like ours to maybe gauge which skills are necessary.
Yes. Everybody has touched on points that I've experienced first-hand.
One of my previous roles with the U.K. government was in economic development and regeneration. We obviously did quite a lot of in-depth studies into this as well. One thing we focused on was training and education and upskilling, and programs there, and also helping companies with their export plans. We implemented programs to actually help companies with their business expansion and how to do international trade and put programs in place. We walked them through the whole process step by step. It's a case of knowledge sharing but also practical, hands-on support, and exactly as you pointed out, working in collaboration and partnership with colleges and other educational institutions to make sure you are actually putting the right people through.
At the other end of the spectrum, however, I actually experienced first-hand a company here in Canada that really wanted to hire a scientist from Poland and couldn't because of immigration issues, and that person was integral to their company. Sometimes you'll get somebody who's extremely well qualified and is probably the best person in the world to do that particular job, but because of the processes in place—as somebody alluded to, red tape—it actually blocks that company from being successful here in Canada, so much so that they might even consider moving offshore or setting up a branch office elsewhere.
Actually, I wasn't going to raise it, but Karima-Catherine made a really good point as well. So much focus in Canada seems to be put on the manufacturing industry, which is great because they do a wonderful job, and we need them and those are really good-quality jobs. However, some of the largest companies in Canada, such as CAE and CTI, are actually service-based providers. I don't know whether Karima-Catherine has had the same experience as I have, but as a service provider, if you contact a person in the federal government for support and help, they're really not as interested as they would be if you were a manufacturing company. However, you are still a business here. You're still paying taxes and you are still employing people, and there is capacity to grow.
Thank you to the presenters.
I came to Canada as an immigrant as well, speaking very little English. I learned English here. I went to the University of Calgary and did my engineering studies there, but—the other way around—my daughters were born here, and both went to Hungary to do their medicine studies. They are doing their residency in the U.S., but they are facing the same barriers now. In fact, born here, they still have to write the English test. I can see that not only the skilled labour, but even students who are born here and go to Europe to have higher education are facing the same challenges when they come back.
We've signed CETA. When we form these trade agreements, does this create barriers for ethnocultural communities, or does it help? How can we improve on that?
Thank you. It is an exciting committee.
I want to commend the committee for doing this study. When I was trade minister and we made the Canada-Europe free trade agreement the focus of our efforts, I came to the conclusion also that Canadian business had a serious problem, which was that we were opening lots of doors but not necessarily walking through them with all the trade agreements we were entering into. I tried during that time—I don't know how it continued afterwards—to focus particularly on the chambers of commerce, such as yours, of those countries to stimulate a bit of opportunity.
I look at your success, Andrew, with Cyclone, and I come to the conclusion that while you are tremendously successful, it's not because of your Polish market strategy. Because of the nature of your product, there's not a big Polish market for it, isn't that correct?
My sense is that we have in this country all sorts of folks who come from these backgrounds, but somehow the business community finds it too easy to be seduced by the easy big market next door: go to the United States; we talk the same language and watch the same football game on Sunday and can talk about that, and so on. Even to the extent that we've been in Europe, it has been overwhelmingly U.K. stuff—a similar kind of problem.
My question is particularly for the Poles. In the Polish community there has been a great deal of success in trade, but it has tended to be through people in the Canadian Polish community finding products in Poland to sell to the Canadian market, both the diaspora market and the broader Canadian market, with not so much going the other way.
Why is that, and what needs to be done to change it?
First of all, because the majority of Polish businesses are small and medium-sized, it's hard for them to undertake the policy of exporting. It's more complicated, more capital intensive. That's one reason.
Then, the regulations were so much more complicated. Poland went through a definite market change. Then it was independent and then part of the EU. The regulations on importing were therefore changing.
What Andrew just mentioned is also very difficult. For example, interpretation of particular laws and regulations in Poland is very questionable. You may get different interpretations, depending on which city you're trying to do business in.
People were not eager to export to Poland because of all these complications. The current agreement with Europe should facilitate exporting much better, but again, we need to have some simple rules from the perspective of Canadian businesses. We have to basically encourage people. People get into their habits quite easily, and it's difficult to get them out of them.
To our guests, thank you as well.
I want to go back to what Mr. Carrie talked about earlier, the skills shortages—you alluded to it as well—and the match. I know that one thing our government tried to figure out is how we align the skills shortages. It's something that all governments have to work on.
Talk to us about your experience specifically. I know you're looking for machinists and general labourers, etc. Do you do apprenticeship training? Talk to me about some of the things you do. If you're short of apprentices or short of machinists, where would you go to look for them, if they're not provided in Canada?
Is that where some flexibility to bring them in...?
Welcome back, everyone.
Welcome to our panellists for our second round.
As everybody knows, this is the international trade committee, and I'm the chair, Mark Eyking. Our study is on multiculturalism and international trade.
We have two guests with us for the second panel: the Italian Chamber of Commerce of Ontario and the Polish Canadian Business and Professional Association of Windsor. Welcome, folks.
We'll start with the Italian Chamber of Commerce of Ontario. Welcome, and thank you for coming via video. You have the floor.
Thank you for inviting us to present from this location.
My name us Tiziana Tedesco. I'm the director of trade for the Italian Chamber of Commerce of Ontario.
The Italian Chamber of Commerce of Ontario, or ICCO, was founded in the 1930s as an organization, and was later recognized by the Italian government as a chamber of commerce operating outside of Italy. ICCO is a Canadian company with offices in Italy. Its main objective and mandate is to offer business assistance and business services to small and medium-sized companies both in Italy and Canada. We're also part of a network of chambers of commerce outside of Italy that includes 75 offices around the world. We are all part of an association that has its headquarters in Rome, Italy.
As a chamber of commerce, we have a strong presence both in Canada and Italy. We are founding members of the greater Toronto business alliance, which includes the Federation of Portuguese-Canadian Business & Professionals, the Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce, and the Toronto Chinese Business Association. We are also a founding member of EUCCAN, which is the European Union Chamber of Commerce, with head offices in Canada. With them, we have organized many initiatives and projects in the past, trade delegations to not only Italy but also to elsewhere in Europe and to China, and also seminars and information sessions for our respective members.
At a local level, the Italian Chamber of Commerce also has strong relations with Italian-Canadian businesses and cultural associations. Together with them, we organize events and networking opportunities, such as fundraising events, business assistance services, and initiatives.
As a chamber of commerce here in Canada, we're also membership based. We have over 500 members, most of which are small and medium-sized Canadian companies. We offer services to both members and non-members, which include market research, coordination of trade delegations, and B-to-B meetings. We organize trade events, business delegations, and institutional delegations. We also work in facilitating investment attractions both in Canada and in Italy, and we offer a virtual office and soft landing services to our members and non-members.
In the past, we've also published a series of books and publications which give an overview of the successes and achievements of the business community and the Italian-Canadian business community, mainly in Toronto and the GTA. Lately, we again started collaborating with a group called GIT, Gruppo Italia. This is a group of Italian companies that have recently opened offices in Canada or started a business here. We offer them assistance in linking them with the right professionals and the right companies here that could help them solve some problems or give them suggestions and assistance to further develop their business networks and business relations in Canada.
This is mainly—
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair. Good afternoon.
The Polish Canadian Business and Professional Association of Windsor was incorporated in 1997 as a non-profit corporation in Ontario. We support the needs of business leaders, established professionals, community organizers, and young people of Polish heritage in Windsor.
For the last 22 years, we've organized annual Polish business dinners for business leaders and young people. We invite high-ranking keynote speakers, such as the late Honourable Herb Gray, former deputy prime minister of Canada; diplomats, such as trade consuls and ambassadors of Poland to Canada; the city mayors of Windsor and our twin city, Lublin, Poland; and international trade lawyers, just to name a few. These dinners also serve as a venue to promote businesses in Windsor, especially those owned and operated by Canadians of Polish heritage, such as Eagle Press, one of the largest press manufacturers in all of North America.
Besides business dinners, our association spearheaded five Polish weeks in Windsor. During each week, we organize over 20 events celebrating our heritage with food, traditional dance performances, and educational activities with the University of Windsor and the City of Windsor. These types of events encourage trade between Canada and Poland on a local level. For example, our Tatry Song & Dance Ensemble has 70 dancers. This group has been importing traditional costumes from Poland for the last 40 years.
The third type of activity our association focuses on is Canada-Poland promotional materials, such as display exhibitions. Our new exhibition is a Polish-Canadian commemorative exhibition called “Canada 150”. It has nine displays divided into three groups.
The first group, “Contributions of Poles to Canada”, includes well-known Canadians of Polish heritage, such as Casimir Gzowski and Alexandre Kierzkowski.
The second group, “Reasons Why Poles are Grateful to Canada”, includes information on the Polish army Kosciuszko training camp at Niagara-on-the-Lake during World War I, the Polish army recruiting station in Windsor during World War II, and “The Odyssey of Wawel Treasures”, which are Polish national artifacts that were held safe in Canada during World War II. Some were actually stored in the Macdonald building, in the basement.
The third group is “Contributions of Poles to the World”. This includes displays with lesser-known information about Pope John Paul II, Marie Sklodowska-Curie, and of course Chopin.
Actually, the opening of this last group of displays is this Thursday in the Macdonald building.
These exhibitions also create trade opportunities between Canada and Poland. Often, archival material for our displays is purchased from Polish collectors and museums. Most recently, in 2017, our association received a $17,000 donation from the Polish Senate to cover the costs of four displays for our Canada 150 project, highlighting members of Parliament in Canada of Polish heritage. So far, we've counted 22 of them.
Our association also spearheaded the creation of the Windsor-Lublin twin city partnership agreement in 2000. Since then, there have been delegations from both of our cities, including politicians, scholars, students, and trade professionals. Our association also participated in the Canada Trade Day in Lublin in 2004.
As a result of this partnership, memorandums of understanding have been signed by the University of Windsor and several universities in Lublin to promote scholar and student exchange programs. When the Polish community in Windsor celebrated its 100th anniversary, Lublin donated to Windsor a handmade brass goat fountain worth $35,000.
Another important aspect of our association is our focus on young people. We put a lot of effort into supporting our local youth, from providing scholarships to sponsoring national and international Polish youth conferences, such as Quo Vadis. I personally led the Quo Vadis Polish youth conference in 2010, in Windsor, for 150 Canadian and American students and young professionals, where many Canadian politicians were present, and also the Speaker of the Polish Senate. In 2010, the budget for the conference was $61,000, and both the Canadian and the Polish governments sponsored this conference.
Since the signing of CETA, the window of opportunity for international trade between Canada and Poland has grown. Our association stands firm on motivating and supporting young people to become more educated and more interested in business opportunities with Poland. It would be beneficial to have more internship opportunities in Europe, and a more formal student exchange program between Canada and Poland. Such a program exists in Europe, and it's called Erasmus.
I myself interned in the European Parliament in Brussels a few years ago. The experience inspired me to choose a career in international law. I think the federal government should simplify student exchanges and internship programs for young Canadians.
In conclusion, over the last 20 years of existence our association has generated half a million dollars for our combined projects. The impact of our local community work does indeed have a positive impact upon Canada-Poland trade as well as upon multiculturalism in Canada.
Thank you very much.
This is something we do independently. Basically, what we have found is that small and medium-sized companies often have a lot of interest in doing business here in Canada. At the same time, they don't have the strength to go on their own. They need more assistance locally.
We have some offices that we use to welcome the small and medium-sized companies. What we do is suggest and offer to them the opportunity to stay with us for a minimum of three months, or up to six months or even a year, during which time we help them first of all connect with our members and with our network of contacts locally. We organize meetings for them and have them participate in and attend our networking events so that they have as many chances as possible to interact with local businesses and grow their network of business contacts.
At the same time, they can stay at our office and can use our boardroom and our common spaces. We find that this way they have a better idea of what their opportunities are, in the GTA mostly, the greater Toronto area.
We find this to be a very successful project. Once again, they are small and medium-sized companies. This is something we would like to keep doing. The City of Toronto gave us some support for this project, which was very welcome. We are looking forward to continuing to work on this.
That's great. Congratulations. I think it's an important role.
I had the pleasure of travelling to Poland at one time. You mentioned Pope John Paul. I was in Cracow shortly after his passing, and what a remarkable outpouring that was to see. I went all the way up as far north as Gdansk, in the beautiful part of the world there. I think what you're doing is great.
Ms. Tedesco, I'm from the riding of Newmarket—Aurora. I know that many of my constituents are members of your chamber, especially some of my friends who do business in Aurora.
I have a question that applies to both of you. We see that the statistics are clear, I think, and they show that recent immigrants do a lot of business with countries that they immigrated from and are able to easily tap into existing networks and markets from their home countries, for lack of a better phrase. You two are focused on two specific countries. Do you track this information? Do you have this data? Is there a best practices about what works best and what doesn't? Is there any way we can take information that you have and apply it to other groups across Canada who might be like yours?
I'll start with Madam Tedesco.
Thank you so much. It's wonderful to have two groups who are very well represented in Windsor. There's a chapter of the Italian Chamber of Commerce of Ontario in Windsor as well that is quite strong and vibrant and offers all of the services that you mentioned, Ms. Tedesco, which local businesses can tap into.
Then we have the Polish Canadian society, which really is a source of pride for us locally as well. I know you'll be having your upcoming dinner very soon, and I'm looking forward to it.
Both of you spoke to some really specific things that I believe contribute to your success.
Ms. Barycka, I want to focus on you. You talked a lot about the youth focus and its importance. We see a lot of entrepreneurship from our youth. Could you speak a little about how you're successful in mentoring the youth, in making the connections to Poland, to Polish businesses, and making sure that the trade opportunity is there for younger Polish Canadians as well?
I also want to say that I think your connection in having a twin city is critical. It creates a shared space between Windsor and Lublin. I think that's important. Of course, there's the history that you've shared. Your presentation here last year with Alexandre Kierzkowski was wonderful, highlighting the shared history that we have.
I want to ask you about that youth focus because I think it is something unique to Windsor. If you can, just expand on that and let us know what you're working on to promote young Polish Canadians in business.
Thank you for the question.
We have a very strong young Polish community in Windsor. We have a dance group. We have the Polish Canadian Students' Association of Windsor. We have a couple of other organizations that we really like to promote. As an association, we sponsor events—everybody is always looking for money. That's how we mainly support: it's financial support and mentorship.
We also sponsor the annual Quo Vadis conferences. These conferences are something new but have been going on since 2009. Every year we have an annual Quo Vadis conference in a different city in Canada, whereby around 100 to 150 students and young professionals of Polish Canadian descent descend upon one place. We have discussions about heritage, leadership, and unity and we invite prominent Polish Canadians. This is a great venue for young people to network at. One thing money can't buy is the networking and the people you meet at such events.
As an association, I would say that our main goal is to let the youth organize themselves—they know how to do it best—but we like to provide the financial support so that they can do so. We are very youth-focused. As you can see, I'm here.
As for Lublin, it is a city that we've been partners with since the year 2000. It's one of the most vibrant. The delegations go back and forth for a number of years. We really do have a great connection with that city, because of the university partnerships, because of people on the international committee at the City of Windsor who work really hard on these relationships. It's a great venue and also a great continuation of trade relations that we can make between the two cities. It's a very strong relationship, and I think more cities should be connected to Poland that way.
Thank you, Ms. Tedesco and Ms. Barycka. The Italian and Polish communities have a very deep and rich history here in Canada and have been here for well over 100 years—150 years—so, from the beginning. Each of those communities, the Italian Canadians and the Polish Canadians, is over a million people.
I know that the low-hanging fruit has always been NAFTA, and maybe those relationships within North America with the United States, where a lot of business has been done. Now, however, we have CETA. CETA has come to fruition, and we have this tremendous opportunity with two countries, Poland and Italy.
How have you disseminated all of that information about CETA, all of the opportunities that exist? Have your members hooked into it to look at how we can do more trade now with Italy and with Poland?
I'll start with Ms. Tedesco.
That wraps up our day today with our panels. We had great dialogue and great witnesses this afternoon. We're going to take your advice and put many of your things in our report. If you want a copy of our report, when we get it done, we'll get it to you.
Thank you, everybody, for this afternoon.
Before I end the meeting, just a reminder that tonight we have votes. The ambassador knows we're going to be running a little late. If anybody is going tonight, that's okay. We have another group of panellists coming. We're going to do just one panel on Wednesday.
Thank you very much again.
The meeting is adjourned.