Canada needs a faster, more responsive immigration system that meets the country’s economic needs, according to a keynote speech to the National Metropolis Conference by Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney.
‘Immigration is playing an increasingly important role in our economy and we need a system that does a better job of attracting the people who have the skills that are in demand and getting them here quickly,’ he said.
‘We have made some great strides towards an immigration system that is fast and flexible, but know that there is more work to do,’ he added.
In his speech, the Minister highlighted recent changes to the Federal Skilled Worker Programme, where current applicants must have experience in one of 29 occupations in demand, or have a job offer in Canada.
He also noted the growing success of the Canadian Experience Class, which allows certain foreign students and temporary foreign workers to translate their Canadian work and education experience into permanent residence.
And he lauded the growth of provincial and territorial nominee programs, noting the role they have played in spreading the benefits of immigration across the country and addressing long term regional labour needs.
While recognizing these improvements, the Minister indicated that more challenges lie ahead in seeing his vision realised. He noted, for instance, that the current points system used to assess federal skilled worker applicants needs to be more flexible and intelligent. It should place greater emphasis on the importance of language, he said, while recognizing that the language ability needed to successfully integrate in Canada is different for a doctor as opposed to a welder. It should also place greater emphasis on younger workers with high quality credentials that can be recognized quickly.
Kenney pledged to do a better job of attracting entrepreneurs and investors to Canada, noting that we lag behind the United States where half of the top 50 venture capital backed companies are founded by immigrants.
While noting progress to date, he also promised to do more to reduce the legacy of backlogs, where there are wait times of seven years or longer in some categories.
‘It makes no sense to tell people apply now, but put your life on hold for a few years before we’ll even let you know if you qualify. I will continue to make changes to create a faster, more flexible immigration system. Canadians need and deserve a system that boldly puts Canada’s best interests first,’ Kenney concluded.