Last Updated on January 24, 2019
In response to Canada’s labor market challenges, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is proposing a new “Introduction to Canada Visa” that it says is a longer-term solution that makes better sense for employers while honouring Canada’s immigrant tradition. The visa would also provide a clear path for immigrant workers to become citizens.
CFIB’s proposal comes in light of the new rules that are forcing thousands of temporary foreign workers (TFWs) to leave Canada. The loss of TFWs is expected to have a severe adverse impact on businesses in small and remote communities where there are not enough Canadian citizens to take the available jobs.
Experts believe that myths and misconceptions have led to the collapse of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, which has resulted in the barring of employers to hire foreign workers for jobs even though there are no locals available to hire.
Historically, Canada has been known for being welcoming to immigrants who would arrive in search of better opportunities and would contribute to the economy by working in farms or factories. However, the past 30 years has seen a shift from that trend, with immigration policy increasingly focused on attracting just the “best and brightest”.
While the new Express Entry immigration system aims to match skilled positions with qualifying candidates, offering them a direct pathway to permanent residency and ultimately citizenship, critics of the program believe that the new immigration system is “broken”, and unless applicants are skilled traders, scientists, or engineers, there is very little chance of them qualifying for permanent residency in the country. The program simple does not offer any option for the TFWs with lower skill sets.
But since the economy requires immigrant workers of all skill levels, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) has proposed to the government a longer-term solution in the form of the “Introduction to Canada Visa”, which is targeted for workers with more junior skill sets, helping them take the first steps toward Canadian citizenship. While addressing the critical labor shortages faced by small businesses, the proposed visa will also provide immigrant workers with a clear path to permanent residence.
The “Introduction to Canada visa” would allow qualifying candidates to work with a Canadian employer for two years, after which they would become eligible for permanent residence. The visa also calls for stringent national and provincial rules such as paying equal wages to the Intro Visa worker as is given to Canadians, while also requiring businesses to employ at least one Canadian national for each Intro Visa worker. The workers would also be allowed to change employers (but not regions or sectors) in case the employers fail to meet the commitments promised to them.
Supporters of this proposed visa believe that temporary foreign workers have never been a problem in the Canadian economy, as has been widely believed, but instead put the blame on the skewed immigration system that is not appropriately aligned with the requirements of in the economy and does not support long-term growth.
CFIB’s “Introduction to Canada Visa” is an immensely useful program that will benefit many regions, especially Alberta and offers Canada a chance to get its immigration policy back on track.
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