A key advisory panel has told the federal government it needs to increase annual immigration numbers to 450,000 over the next five years, to fuel sustained future economic growth. This would represent a 50% increase from current levels.
At the same time the process for bringing in skilled and entrepreneurial foreigners has to be streamlined and simplified to allow Canada to prosper.
The Advisory Panel on Economic Growth also wants to see more done to attract foreign investment to the country, including setting up an infrastructure bank, according to reports.
The panel, made up of experts from across the finance industry, believes bold steps are required to establish Canada at the forefront of receiving nations for the world’s top talent and advance the country beyond the stagnant 2 per cent economic growth predicted by economists for the foreseeable future.
The recommendations will begin to be presented to the government this week and continue over the coming months.
Source: Statistics Canada (2010-2015)
Canada’s plan is to accept up to 305,000 immigrants in 2016, which would be a modern-era calendar year record. In the 12 months to July it accepted more than 320,000 newcomers, the most in a one-year period for a century. Those numbers put Canada on target to exceed planned levels for 2016.
Businesses have long urged the government to overhaul the immigration process, especially when it comes to emerging companies hiring high-level technology talent.
Too often a cumbersome process can last anywhere from six months to a year, by which time the best and brightest have been recruited elsewhere.
Technology companies have resorted to hiring staff to work outside Canada to get around the immigration bottleneck.
The Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), the method used to assess whether a qualified Canadian is available to do the position required, is believed to be the cause of the problem.
One of the changes being considered is to make the most in demand, high-skilled positions exempt from the process. Another suggestion is to create an entirely new global talent visa.
There have also been several calls for Canada’s education system to be adapted to produce new labour force participants with skills aligned with modern workplace requirements.
The panel’s recommendations fit comfortably with the plan of Immigration Minister John McCallum, who was convinced of the need for increased immigration following a series of meetings with business people and provincial policymakers over the summer.
However, a series of polls recently have suggested the Canadian public are less convinced about the need for increased immigration.
Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains, also a keen supporter of higher numbers of new permanent residents, believes the government needs to present the argument to the Canadian people in economic terms in order to get the message across.
These new panel recommendations could well help achieve that.
McCallum`s Immigration Plan
- The Liberals made family reunification a key element of their campaign for election, and McCallum is looking at ways to speed up the whole process of bringing in immediate family members.
- There are also plans to make it easier for international students to stay in Canada after they graduate. McCallum feels these young, Canadian qualified, Canadian experienced individuals are the perfect candidates to become new permanent residents.
- McCallum also plans to address the technology talent shortage in Canada by making it easier to bring in new immigrants with the right qualifications.
- Limitations on the Temporary Foreign Worker Program are set to be relaxed. Read a parliamentary committee report on TFWP here.
- McCallum has already given Atlantic Canada the freedom to bring in 2,000 more immigrants under Provincial Nominee Programs in 2017. These numbers could rise in 2018 and 2019 if the increase is seen as a success.
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