Immigration is Canada's secret sauce: Gerry Butts
Following record-setting immigration figures last year, an immigration lawyer says Canada’s system does not go far enough to fill jobs in high-demand industries.
Ksenia Tchern, a co-founder and partner at Abramovich & Tchern Immigration Lawyers, said in an interview with BNN Bloomberg on May 23 that changes to Canada’s points-based permanent residents system could improve the country's labour market.
According to Tchern, applicants working in industries experiencing labour shortages should be prioritized and receive additional points. She said the current system only takes into account skilled versus unskilled work and the total years of experience.
“You have nurses and other professionals in construction that are not being awarded additional points, simply because they don't take that into consideration,” Tchern said.
One of the main ways for people to obtain permanent residency in Canada is through Express Entry.
Through Express Entry, points are allocated to applicants based on things like education, English test scores, work experience both in and outside of Canada, as well as age, Tchern said.
However, changing the nation’s permanent residents system to prioritize those in in-demand industries would benefit Canadian employers, Tchern said.
“Ultimately, if we make these changes, what I think will happen is that a lot of Canadian employers will be able to retain the talent that they currently have. And they will be able to tap into more talent,” she said.
Tchern said the employers she works with often face difficulties retaining talent from overseas as foreign workers may be hesitant to stay if their work permits are not being renewed.
“If they don't have the sense of some sort of permanency, they're going to look at different options and where else they can go,” she said.
CHANGES ARE ON THE WAY
In June of last year, the federal government made changes to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, a spokesperson for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), said in a statement to BNN Bloomberg on May 26.
“New category-based selection authorities, expected to be launched in summer 2023, will build on the success of Express Entry by increasing the flexibility to respond to evolving economic needs and government priorities, selecting those with the skills and talent needed to support long-term growth and prosperity,” the spokesperson said.
Last year, Canada set an immigration record by adding over 431,000 new permanent residents as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government looked to address labour supply issues.
This year, Trudeau’s government will look to welcome 465,000 permanent residents, surpassing the previous record-breaking year.
In a statement, the IRCC spokesperson described economic immigration as a priority and said that the federal organization "will be better positioned to target invitations to apply for permanent residence to those who demonstrate the potential to help address Canada’s chronic and acute labour market needs. This approach will supplement invitations sent to top-ranking candidates through general and program-specific rounds in Express Entry."
According to the IRCC, some of the most common primary occupations for candidates invited to apply for permanent residency through Express Entry between 2019-21 included computer programmers, software engineers, food services supervisors, cooks and more.
IMMIGRATION AND CANADA’S LABOUR MARKET
James Orlando, the director of economics at TD Bank, said in a statement to BNN Bloomberg on May 23, that increases to Canada’s population have helped to alleviate “some of the excess demand for workers.”
“The country had a massive number of excess job vacancies such that the vacancy to job seeker ratio was 1.2 in 2022 (more than one job per available worker). That is closer to 0.8 right now,” Orlando said.
Despite many vacancies being filled in Canada’s labour market, many firms are still looking for workers, Orlando said, adding that the labour force survey shows “monthly job gains well exceeding historical norms.”
“In other words, greater population growth has enabled the labour market to 'level up.' This has also supported overall gross domestic product, as more people working means more income and more consumer spending,” he said.
Over the next three years, federal immigration targets will look to add 1.5 million permanent residents, Orlando said in a January report.