New immigration measures
to address Canada’s labour shortage
by Michael Scott
Canada continues to develop new efforts to increase the labour supply the country needs to recover from the pandemic. At this time employers are actively seeking thousands of workers to fill vacant positions in all sectors across the country. Immigration is playing an important part in contributing to the numbers of new workers for the economy. Canada must remain competitive in order to remain a top destination for global talent. The country needs to ensure that businesses and employers have ready access to the skilled workers they need to grow and succeed.
On April 22, 2022, the Honourable Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, announced a number of initiatives his department is working on to increase skilled and semi-skilled immigration to the country. The Minister announced that Express Entry draws will resume and invitations for candidates to apply for permanent residence will began in early July. The travel restrictions in 2020 and 2021 delayed the processing of overseas applications which in turn added to the backlog. The immigration department responded with a temporary pause in invitations to apply under the federal high-skilled streams, which is now being lifted. IRCC is hopeful that once the backlog is addressed that the majority of new applications will be processed within the six-month service standard.
One result of the temporary pause is that the federal high-skill backlog has been cut more than half, from roughly 111,900 in September 2021 to just 48,000 by March 2022. It is anticipated that this number will be further reduced by the projected July 2022.
Minister Fraser also announced a new temporary policy that will give recent international graduates with expiring temporary status an opportunity to remain in Canada longer. Beginning in September 2022, former international students who are in Canada and have a post-graduate work permit expiring between January 2022 and December 2022 have a chance to apply for an additional open work permit of up to 18 months. The details of this offer have not yet been announced so we shall have to wait for greater detail about the application process. The change is expected to be a major improvement on the system, which saw 157,000 former students transition to permanent residents in 2021. The new open work permit extension would give them the chance to continue contributing to the Canadian economy, helping address the labour shortage while gaining additional work experience and preparing their Express Entry submissions.
The minister mentioned the temporary public policy dealing with visitors inside the country. Starting in August 2020 foreign visitors in Canada have been able to apply for an employer-specific work permit without having to leave Canada. This temporary policy, which requires evidence of an approved Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) job offer has been extended several times, now is in force until February 28, 2023.
The minister finally spoke about those who applied for permanent residence through the temporary resident to permanent resident pathway last year. The limited pathway invited a number of individuals working in Canada to apply to stay permanently. This process has been closed to new applicants since November 2021 but continues for those in process. Some of the changes include: applicants are no longer required to remain inside Canada while the application is being processed; applicants who apply for an open work permit while waiting for the permanent residence processing to be completed will be able to get an open work permit valid until the end of 2024; and immediate family members outside Canada who were included in the principal applicant’s application will be eligible for their own open work permit.
The changes highlighted above demonstrate the government’s efforts to ensure that Canadian employers have access to the workers they need to address shortages inside the country. They can build on the Minister’s ambitious Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) Program Workforce Solutions Road Map. Minister Fraser spoke optimistically about the need for immigration changes to address the long-term labour needs of the country: “With the economy growing faster than employers can hire new workers, Canada needs to look at every option so that we have the skills and labour needed to fuel our growth. Immigration will be crucial to easing our labour shortage, and these measures aim to address pressing needs in all sectors across the country, while providing more opportunities for recent graduates and other applicants to build their lives in Canada and continue contributing to our short-term recovery and long-term prosperity.”
Michael Scott is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC, R525678) who has 30 years of experience with Immigration Canada and the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program. He currently works as a licensed consultant with Immigration Connexion International Ltd. Contact him at 204-691-1166 or 204-227-0292. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.