The strategy is in response to a motion made by a member of the Canadian house of commons in May, which calls on the government to “publicly release a plan to expand economic immigration pathways so workers at all skill levels can access permanent residency”, and support greater ease of “transition”.
The proposal includes five pillars to help boost “permanent labour supply”. The five core points featured are: leveraging increased immigration levels; reforming express entry and increasing immigration selection tools flexibility; enhancing permanent economic immigration programs and pilots; supporting communities to attract and retain newcomers; and building operational capacity.
The third pillar looking at improving the “permanent economic immigration programs” seeks to adopt the National Occupation Classification, thereby expanding eligibility, and improving information access for newcomers.
“We’re pleased to see that the government’s response to Motion 44 continues to emphasise the important role that international graduates play in meeting Canada’s immigration targets and labour market needs,” Alain Roy, VP of international partnerships and Colleges and Institutes Canada, told The PIE News, giving initial comments on the document.
“Colleges and institutes will continue to do their part in graduating students who are job ready.”
Roy also pointed to the “ongoing commitments” towards modernising and digitising the immigration system.
“Long-processing, the lack of a competitive service standard for application decisions and a generally opaque system continues to create immense stress and anxiety for international students and education institutions,” Roy commented.
“We’re pleased to see that the government continues to emphasise the important role of international graduates”
“This remains the number one challenge that needs to be addressed and we look forward to hearing more about the details of the plan to arrive quickly at significant improvements,” he added.
Isaac Garcia-Sitton, who heads up international student enrolment, education and inclusion at Toronto Metropolitan University, told The PIE that while this move is a step in the right direction, it is “unlikely that we will realise the long-term benefits of these policy measures on our economic growth” unless the playing field is levelled for overseas students.
“The aim of M-44 to attract and retain candidates with significant in-Canada experience makes it less helpful for international students who do not have the same opportunities to gain work experience as domestic students, given the 20 hour/week cap on off-campus employment.
“The 2021 CBIE International Student survey reported over four in 10 international students experience significant challenges finding employment, with lack of work experience being cited as the primary barrier to finding work.
“In essence, strategies to expand economic immigration streams for temporary foreign workers and international students should also address some of the social integration and employment barriers faced by international students and newcomers, including but not limited to finding decent accommodations, financial instability, and experiences of discrimination and harassment,” he explained.
Continuing through the document, the fourth pillar that the government puts forward aims to support communities in “attracting and retaining” newcomers, making a point to include Francophone immigration.
“In addition, a new Municipal Nominee Program is being developed to help municipalities attract and retain newcomers to address their local labour needs. The government also continues to work with provinces and territories, and employers on innovative pathways to permanent residence, including through the Provincial Nominee Program,” the document states.
The PNP, it continues, gives provinces across Canada and its territories “the flexibility to adapt and evolve their immigration streams to meet their individual labour market needs”.
The fifth and final pillar, and perhaps one of the most crucial in light of recent difficulties with visa processing, is increasing capacity and “modernising the immigration system through technological improvements”.
“It is great to see the five pillars laid out and address key issues… including, and one of the most important at this time, increasing processing capacity,” Philipp Reichert, director of global engagement at University of British Columbia Okanagan, told The PIE.
“In all sectors, the backlog of applications has provided a variety of challenges”
“On the last pillar, it is particularly important that this plan delivers. In all sectors, the backlog of applications has provided a variety of challenges for applicants who are caught waiting, without a clear understanding of when their applications would be approved.”
Garcia-Sitton explained that, overall, this is a “favourable move” for international graduates.
“[It is favourable] particularly for highly skilled international graduates looking to work in sectors identified as in-demand for the Canadian economy.
“Plans to widen the geographic distribution of immigration across Canada may also help international graduates move away from densely populated urban centres to smaller communities with more affordable housing and settlement options,” he added.
The document also notes that with “rapid growth” of the International Student Program in Canada, IRCC is working to “maintain and strengthen program integrity where necessary with the goal of ensuring that students are protected from abuse”.