We would like to report on three important and current immigration issues, the first a news release issued by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), the second regarding Federal Skilled Worker Program stakeholder sessions currently taking place around the country and the third in regards to a Pilot Project for Group of Employer provisions.
On February 13, CIC posted a news release on their website declaring that Canada had welcomed the highest number of legal immigrants in 50 years (click here to read the release).
We consider this immigration increase to be a step in the right direction, especially given our chronically low birth rate and impending departure of the baby boomer demographic from our labour force. Many of these new permanent residents have already entered the labour force, or soon will. What is particularly encouraging is that most of the increase in 2010 came from high skilled economic immigrants, who studies show, contribute more economically to Canada than other immigrants. In fact, about two thirds of permanent residents admitted in 2010 were economic immigrants and their dependants. What is also encouraging is that Canada continues to welcome a high number of temporary foreign workers and students, who not only provide labour force augmentation and enrich the cultural and social fabric of our society, but upon meeting certain criteria are eligible to apply for immigration from within Canada through the Canadian Experience Class which was created in 2008.
Immigration is not increasing in all areas, however. Various media reports have stated that the number of immigrants expected in 2011, including skilled workers, would be down from last year’s 280,636. This could perhaps be due to legislative and structural changes implemented last year as to who may qualify as a Federal Skilled Worker, and a reduced backlog of applicants as a result. With a population in excess of 32 million, many analysts believe that Canada requires immigration levels equal to 1% of our population (approximately 320,000 annually) to offset the forecast labour force decrease due to demographics. Also, the federal government has decided to substantially decrease the number of immigrant visas issued to parents and grandparents of Canadian citizens and permanent residents. It has been suggested that this change could ironically deter those same skilled workers from applying to immigrate to Canada that they are trying to attract in the first place. This remains to be seen. In the meantime, it is clear the government is working to rebalance immigration in a way that bolsters the contribution of immigrants to the Canadian economy. We hope that remains the case as there will be an increasing need for immigration to address worker shortages in Alberta.
CIC has invited interested stakeholders, of whom we are one, to attend one of five sessions taking place across Canada regarding proposed improvements to the Federal Skilled Worker Program. This is a positive move on CIC’s part, both because they are inviting interested stakeholders to provide input into the program, and also because the proposed changes appear to be positive ones. They include having to meet a minimum proficiency standard in at least one of our official languages, facilitating trades people scoring more points in the education selection factor and improving the integrity of the arranged employment selection factor by reducing incidents of fraudulent job offers.
Finally, it is nice to see that Service Canada and CIC are working together on a Group of Employers pilot project. This project facilitates employers operating in the same industry sector joining together and forming a Group of Employers to collectively hire temporary foreign workers in high skilled positions for a common project/initiative such as a construction project.