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Selling Canada: How Can We Convince Immigrants That Canada Is The Place For Them?

Competition for the world’s best and brightest has just gotten more intense with Germany signaling the need for more immigrants to keep up with a growing economy, and Japan and China entering the market for more foreign workers.


These countries need more skilled workers to replace an aging population and to fill work place vacancies. In years past, Germany tried getting their immigrants from outside of the European Union, but with little success.  Now, Germany is increasing their focus on EU workers. 


What does this mean for Canada?


Simply put, if these countries continue with a high demand for workers, not only will they poach workers from countries nearby, they will also need to reach out beyond to take immigrants from the countries that Canada recruits from.  What is stopping them from recruiting Canadians for jobs in these countries?


If Canada is facing this type of competition for the best and the brightest with a recession still ongoing in many parts of the world, once the rest of the world finally shakes this recession, competition for immigrants will become fierce. More countries are looking to recruit from abroad and more people find jobs that would allow them to stay at home. If the U.S can get immigration reform passed – which would facilitate immigration to that country – all of a sudden, Canada will be competing with the world for immigrants.


Last year, I wrote an op-ed on what‎ Canada must do to position itself to attract the best and the brightest. Since that time, Canada has actually made it harder to recruit from abroad. New rules  make it more expensive and cumbersome to hire foreign workers.  Instead of making it easier for businesses to recruit from abroad, the process for Canada is more complex and burdensome.


It is time for Canada to wake up and realize that it is better to ride the wave as opposed to drowning under it. Here are some things Canada should do:


  1. Make the permanent process for temporary foreign workers easier.  If Canada is going to make hiring temporary foreign workers more cumbersome, at least make the process of permanent residency for these workers easier. The permanent residency process is bogged down by criminal checks, security checks and an analysis of whether a potential immigrant has what it takes to settle here. Criminal and security checks should already have been cleared by the temporary foreign worker before coming here. If not, what are we doing letting these people in? As to whether the potential immigrant has what it takes to settle here – he or she is already working here. What more does Canada need to know? Does Canada really need to look at diplomas and work reference letters? Shouldn’t the Canadian employer already have done that?


  1. Make the process totally on-line; after all, this is the 21th century. If Manitoba can make its process on-line, why can’t the Government of Canada? Why burden applicants and immigration officers with paper? Why are we paying people to transcribe information from paper back into Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s computers?
  2. Get out and recruit.  It is time that the Government of Canada gets out and sells Canada to the rest of the world. Let’s face it; this country is cold. In many parts of the world, people do not get past this stereotype.  If we are going to attract the best and the brightest, it is time to promote what is good about Canada.

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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