Adjusting the Balance: Fixing Canada's Economic Immigration Policies

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Link: http://www.maytree.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/adjustingthebalance-final.pdf
By: Naomi Alboim
Org: Maytree
Date: 2009

This report outlines a national vision for successful economic immigration in Canada.

The author suggests that: "A strong, cohesive, long-term vision will help Canada to be competitive in attracting people with the human capital it needs for an innovative, productive and knowledge-based economy. This goal cannot be achieved without fixing Canada’s economic immigration policies. Recent federal policy changes have been reactive and have not given due regard to the root causes of the problems or the cumulative impact. Fixing these policies and enhancing labour market services will help Canada to become the residence of choice for future citizens from around the world and to benefit from their enormous potential."

View a video summary of the report:

Naomi Alboim discusses her report, part 1 (1:53)

Naomi Alboim discusses her report, part 2 (2:18)

Overview

Immigration to Canada is fundamental to the nation’s social and economic well-being. Without it the economy will not thrive and the population will not grow. A well-managed immigration system can fill gaps in the labour market, increase trade and innovation, generate investment and maintain or grow the population base. In the face of the current economic climate, Canada needs a robust, competitive immigration program that will contribute to renewed prosperity.

Recent federal policy shifts have altered the landscape for economic immigration to Canada without public debate. Looked at individually, these shifts have both positive and negative aspects. Looked at as a whole, they represent troubling trends that are unlikely to serve Canada well in the long term.

The author suggests that the Canadian government has gone too far in favour of (1) short-term fixes versus long-term solutions; (2) temporary entrants versus permanent residents; and (3) reliance on provinces, employers and educational institutions for immigrant selection and that a balance must be adjusted to ensure that national and long-term goals predominate to maximize the benefits to Canada and its immigrants.

In considering the recent policy shifts and their impact, it is important to keep in mind the following realities.

  • Attracting and retaining skilled immigrants - skilled workers have more choices about where they can go.
  • Selecting citizens rather than workers - Canada has a competitive advantage in its history of actively recruiting people who arrive as permanent residents and go on to become citizens.
  • An enduring federal role - the role of the federal government is vitally important in the selection and integration of immigrants and it must provide leadership in the development of national frameworks.
  • Changing context - The challenge for immigration policy makers is to be confident that new directions will achieve their objectives without having an unintended impact on other parts of the system.

Report Contents:

  • Canadian Immigration Context
  • Recent Policy Shifts
  • Cumulative Impact
  • Moving Forward
  • Conclusion

Summary of Recommendations

  1. Articulate a national vision for economic immigration through public dialogue and debate.
  2. Improve the capacity for long-range planning to achieve the vision.
  3. Make the Federal Skilled Worker Program Canada’s priority for economic immigration.
  4. Revise the Federal Skilled Worker Program to better match labour market needs.
  5. Connect applicants to employers by creating a searchable database.
  6. Create a national framework for provincial nominee programs that allows for provincial variation and that complements but does not replace the Federal Skilled Worker Program.
  7. Eliminate the Low Skill Pilot Project for temporary foreign workers.
  8. Monitor recruitment and working conditions of temporary foreign workers.
  9. Strengthen the review process before employers are authorized to recruit temporary foreign workers.
  10. Define the role of employers and postsecondary institutions in two-step economic immigration.
  11. Expand eligibility for the Canadian Experience Class on a one-time basis for temporary foreign workers already admitted under the Low Skill Pilot Project.
  12. Expand overseas information and services.
  13. Broaden eligibility for federally funded settlement services.
  14. Expand access for immigrants to labour market services.
  15. Fund successful and creative labour market supports such as mentoring, internships, bridge training, enhanced language training, and local multi-stakeholder councils.

Downloads and Media Coverage

July 22, 2009