The federal government recently announced changes to Canada’s immigration system that will make it easier for foreign students to stay and work in Canada after they graduate. It also plans to improve the Temporary Foreign Workers Program (TFWP).
The previous government changed the rules of the two main immigration channels: the temporary foreign worker (TFW) program and the permanent immigrant system that awards points to potential immigrants. The changes had some positive effects and but also changed the type of people who can immigrate to Canada.
The changes limited the types of workers companies can bring in, made the screening process more rigorous and set an employer-specific limit on TFWs.
In the past, permanent immigrants were not substitutes for existing Canadians because the criteria in the points system did not reflect what businesses needed. The new seasonal exemption allows more TFWs into Atlantic Canada. It also means TFW’s compete with residents for seasonal jobs.
The express entry system was one of the major changes made by the previous government. Candidates with a Canadian job offer are able to migrate to Canada much faster than before.
While the changes to both the TFW and permanent immigrant programs were designed to better meet current labour-market needs while safeguarding job opportunities for Canadian workers, they have some unintended consequences that need fixing.
Immigration Minister John McCallum recently said the government plans to adjust the express-entry system to allow recent international graduates of Canadian universities to transition into the permanent express entry immigration system.
As well, beyond Atlantic Canada, TFWs will no longer be seen as competing directly for jobs with Canadian workers, including workers who are willing to move to where the jobs are.
The government should continue to promote economic opportunities for Canadian residents seeking employment in their own province or moving to other provinces in search of better opportunities. More consideration should be given to attract immigrants with skills the Canadian economy may need currently and as well as in the future. This is known as the human capital approach to immigration, a policy international immigration stakeholders continue to endorse.
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