Canada wants to double the number of young Irish people arriving to live and work in the country through its International Experience Canada (IEC) programme, it has been announced.
Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney said that from next year the number of spaced available for Irish young people on the programme with increase by 1,000 to 6,350 and double to 10,000 by 2014.
‘Our government is focused on creating a proactive, nimble immigration system that helps us grow Canada’s economy,’ he said after returning from a visit to Ireland.
The IEC provides opportunities for Irish citizens between the ages of 18 and 35 to travel and work in Canada for up to one year. In exchange, young Canadians can likewise travel to and work in Ireland.
Young people who come to Canada as part of their working holiday are given an open work permit, allowing them to work for any Canadian employer.
He also announced changes to how the working holiday category is structured. Currently, Irish citizens can participate twice in the IEC for a maximum of 12 months each time. Beginning in 2013, Irish people will be eligible to participate in the IEC only once but for a period of up to two years. Kenney said that the change will eliminate the need for people, who are already residing and working in Canada, to disrupt their employment and leave the country in order to apply again.
‘Relations between Ireland and Canada are already close, based on family ties, historically rooted cultural affinities, and shared democratic political traditions,’ he explained.
‘The expansion of the Canada-Ireland working holiday agreement will not only help build a stronger Canada but will also strengthen the ties between the two countries,’ he added.
Eamon Gilmore, the Irish Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, said he was pleased with the changes.
‘I had the opportunity last March to visit Toronto and to meet with some of the participants of the IEC programme, as well as with some of the companies seeking to hire Irish workers,’ he said.
‘At that time, it was clear that the programme could be enhanced to better meet the needs of participants and prospective employers. I am delighted that we were able to bring forward these changes that will benefit both our countries in the coming years,’ he added.
Kenney also said that the significant expansion of the Canada-Ireland IEC programme complements the transformational changes the government of Canada has announced to Canada’s immigration system in recent months. These changes will lead to a fast and flexible system that is focused on economic growth and creating jobs in Canada.
Among the recent changes are regulatory reforms proposed for the Canadian Experience Class (CEC), which is Canada’s fastest growing economic immigration programme. The proposed changes would make the program more flexible for applicants who are working in Canada under international agreements, such as the IEC.
‘The proposed changes to the CEC will make the programme more flexible and give many people who are temporarily working in Canada with a more realistic chance of staying as permanent residents and eventually citizens, if they so choose. That includes many young people who are in Canada as part of their working holiday, who may have found a good job and want to stay and build a new life here,’ concluded Kenney.