Every year, Canada invites thousands of immigrants through Express Entry Program. This year, Canada is planning to offer more permanent residence pathways to foreign nationals who are already living in the country.
According to an announcement that Canada will welcome over 400,000 immigrants every year for the next three years. According to a statement given by Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino to Bloomberg, the federal government will make an announcement about this soon.
Why is This Change Needed?
As said by the immigration minister, Canada needs to identify how to accelerate pathways for permanent residency. This program will benefit international students, asylum seekers, and temporary foreign workers who are already in the country. It is essential to improve the economic challenges that Canada is currently facing. However, COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically affected immigration.
The reduction in Canada’s immigration levels has slowed the labor force, population, and economic growth.
This year, both permanent and temporary residents have dropped to a significant number. In 2019, the net increase was more than 190,000 temporary residents. However, in the first half of 2020, this number dropped to 18,221. According to government data from August, permanent resident numbers are down to 60% year-over-year.
Canada Set to Fall Short of Express Entry Program Immigration Target in 2020
According to the current pace, Canada is set to welcome nearly 200,000 permanent residents this year. However, it is much less than the 341,000 than the target before the COVID-19 pandemic. This has already slowed down the total population growth of Canada. It was just 0.1% during the second quarter of 2020. Usually, the population of Canada grows by over 1% every year.
Mendicino told Bloomberg that if they make temporary residents permanent, it will address Canada’s short-term needs to battle against COVID-19. Also, it will address the long-term demographic challenges of Canada, which include low birth rate and aging population.
However, these two factors mean that there will be more gaps in the labor market as the older population retires. Due to a low natural growth rate, Canada will need more immigrants to sustain the population. However, it will also be helpful to fill open positions in the labor market.
Considerations by the Government
The government will also look at the foreign talent that is already in Canada. They will find students, asylum seekers, and workers who possess the skills that will align with the essential services in the economy.
Mendicino also said that students from other countries are the right choice as potential counter forces to the effects of an aging population. Due to this, the government is taking steps to make it easier for them to work in Canada.
Recently, Canada has opened its border for the students enrolled in classes as post-secondaries. Those are having coronavirus readiness plans.
The Benefits of Canadian Experience
There are two significant benefits to offer more PR pathways to existing students, asylum seekers, and foreign workers in Canada. In the short run, it will be helpful to offset the temporary decline in immigration due to the pandemic. However, it will also support economic growth. In the long run, it will help Canada because immigrants having Canadian experience tend to have strong labor market outcomes.
The combination of having Canadian work experience, education, social and professional networks, and fluency in French or English will result in quicker labor market integration and high wages in the long run.
This has been shown in various studies by Statistics Canada, IRCC, and other researchers. As a result, the selection criteria used by IRCC, territories and provinces under the PNP and Quebec will give preference to the candidates having Canadian study and work experience.
How Changes Will Look Like?
The minister gave no hint about the changes; however, his option can include one or more of the following:
- New federal pilot programs
- Modifying Express Entry Program and CRS to provide more points for Canadian experience.
- Holding Express Entry draws for specific programs.
- Improving eligibility criteria for federal programs.
- Extension of length for temporary work permit to give candidates more time to get Canadian work experience.
Moreover, the minister and IRCC have not provided any further indications of what reforms they are planning. So, stakeholders will need to wait for the official announcement from the federal government.