Immigration in Canada: Reshaping the Nation

March 1, 2018

By The McGill International Review |

With the highest population proportion of immigrants in the world, Canada is known for its immigration system that acts as the backbone of the nation. Minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship, Ahmed Hussen, once argued that Canada has the best immigration system in the world, including a careful selection process, public education and healthcare to foster smooth and successful integration. Nevertheless, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) continuously improves upon previous goals and strategies and a number of initiatives were introduced in its 2018 departmental plan with hopes to take immigration to a new direction. What is truly changing about the immigration system and how will these notable initiatives give the nation a leap in economic development?

As indicated in IRCC’s departmental plan, Canada estimates to bring in 310,000 newcomers in 2018, and economic migrants (172,500) make up more than half of the total entries. The majority of new permanent residents settle as economic immigrants through programs under the Express Entry system, which was first launched by the previous Conservative government in 2015. This particular system allows a short processing time of six months or less for candidates who fit in one of the economic migrant categories and expressed interest in permanent residency. A point-based Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) is used to generate a pool of ranked candidates for selection from provinces and employers, under the condition of the maximum score per candidate being 1200 points. In order to meet immediate short-term labour market needs, the IRCC determines occupations in short supplies and grants 600 points to candidates who fit in the job categories with an additional 200 points for receiving a qualifying job offer. However, this occupational preference leads to more immigrants in the food service industry than other professions, calling into question its purpose to serve the country’s needs.

Since June 2017, slight changes were made to the Express Entry System where additional points are given for French skills, Canadian education, and siblings in Canada. These changes put a larger emphasis on candidate’s human capital — combined qualities leading to a long-term contribution to the nation. The IRCC 2018 plan highlights the continuous effort to examine trends and performance stemming from changes to the Express Entry system while maintaining the six-month processing time. Through progressively refining the categories of advantage for candidates based on performance and feedback, the immigration department can adapt to changes in the nation’s talent demand and reduce the imbalance between saturation and shortage of skilled workers of any occupation.

In addition, new strategies are introduced to engage with provinces and territories, academic institutions, other government departments and stakeholders to better attract international students and foreign workers while refining their pathways to permanent residency. For one, the proposed Global Skills Strategy includes reduced application processing times, work permit exemptions for researchers and highly-skilled workers and enhanced customer service, with dedicated service channel (DSC) to better engage with foreign investors and universities. This is indicative of a new approach to immigration from the department, which invites and attract potential immigrants rather than simply taking in applications as in the traditional approach.

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