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Federal Skilled Workers, Immigration, Work Permits

Is this really how Canada’s immigraiton dating game will work?

In a year-end interview with the Globe & Mail, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney outlined his plan for an immigration system in which prospective immigrants could essentially post resumes to a government database that companies in Canada could access. If companies like what they see, these companies could essentially offer jobs to these prospective immigrants which would allow them to immigrate to Canada as permanent residents.

How are these changes good for immigrants?

For the prospective immigrant, this is a welcome change. It would allow skilled workers from around the world to apply for jobs in Canada while applying for immigration. Once approved, individuals would be able to come to Canada as permanent residents – not merely as temporary workers. As well, these individuals would have a job waiting for them in their chosen field and will not face the frustration of looking for jobs in Canada.

Under the old system, immigrants could arrive in Canada on spec. As long as they met the threshold of the “point system”, they would be granted visas assuming no other problems with their applications.

The difficulty with the “point system” is that it did not guarantee that the immigrant would get a job on arrival. In many cases, the “point system” was almost totally disconnected from the reality of the working world in Canada. Immigrants were forced to take jobs in different fields of work because their overseas credentials obtained from schools, professional bodies or trade associations in their home countries were often not recognized here.

Ironically, it was these overseas credentials that allowed people to pass the “point system”. So, on the one hand, you had the federal government saying that these individuals were wanted in Canada but, on the other hand, you had employers and licensing bodies saying that these individuals were not qualified.

Are these changes good for businesses?

From the perspective of businesses, the change is also good. It gives them the power to choose qualified applicants for jobs and get workers here quickly. One disadvantage for business is that the individuals come to Canada as permanent residents, not temporary workers. Since temporary workers are typically restricted to working for a specific employer and permanent residents can work wherever they wish, businesses that use this new program face the prospect that their new employee could leave them any time.

This being said, the disadvantage may be a bit of an illusion. Businesses in Canada are already faced with the fact that their Canadian citizen and Canadian permanent resident employees could quit. As long as businesses provide competitive wage and employment packages, businesses should have little to worry about.

Is anyone left out of this new immigration program?

The biggest losers with this new program are individuals who want to immigrate to Canada on spec. When this program comes into play, this program, in combination with other changes recently announced, will make Canada’s immigration system mostly employer driven. Gone will be the days when an immigrant could simply come to Canada to try to make it here on his or her own. While Canada will still have immigration programs for refugees, close family members, graduating international students and business persons, more distant relatives and persons with no connection to Canada may find themselves out of luck.


About Reis Pagtakhan

Reis Pagtakhan is an immigration law partner with MLT Aikins LLP. His extensive experience includes assisting businesses obtain temporary entry to Canada and permanent residency for their executives, employees and contractors from all over the world. Reis has lectured on and written papers on immigration law for the Law Society of Manitoba, the Manitoba Bar Association, the Human Resources Management Association of Manitoba, the Canadian Corporate Counsel Association, and the Community Legal Education Association of Manitoba. He has presented position papers before the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Immigration Department officials and Manitoba Labour and Immigration. He has written articles on immigration for the CBC, the Winnipeg Free Press, trade, industry and ethnic publications.


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