September 15, 2022
Dear Mr. Hallan:
It was a pleasure to meet with you on August 29, 2022. Thank you for requesting our comments on Motion 44. We support it, and we note that all Members of Parliament have voted in favour of Motion 44.
Our following comments are offered in the hope that the intent of Motion-44 is realized in its execution.
a) “give more weight to significant in-Canada work experience and expand the eligible occupational categories and work experience at various skills levels”
We agree that foreign nationals with Canadian work experience should have an easier path to permanent residence since they have already successfully integrated into Canadian society and the labour market.
However, this should not prejudice international graduates of Designated Learning Institutions who have spent years in Canada and are well-positioned to succeed in Canada.
We applaud recognizing the value of workers at all skill levels and Canada’s need to meet labour shortages at NOC C and D levels.
b) “examining evidence and data gathered from recent programs”
We encourage a data and evidence-driven approach to all law and policy development. All data and data sources considered should be publicly shared in keeping with the federal government’s commitment to transparency, including but not limited to IRCC advanced analytics, Chinook and similar tools, Statistics Canada, and the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.
We anticipate the data will confirm out we have seen in our practices: many valuable foreign nationals with Canadian work experience and/or education were excluded by caps or by occupation.
c) “incorporating data on labour market and skills shortages to align policy … with persistent labour gaps”
It is our hope that data is gathered to identify valuable immigrants whose education, language proficiency scores, or age do not meet current criteria, but who would fill gaps in the labour market especially in trades and service sectors.
d) “assessing ways to increase geographic distribution of immigration and encourage immigrant retention in smaller communities, as well as increase Francophone immigration outside Québec”
We agree the Government of Canada needs to offer competitive incentives overcoming the attractiveness of larger cities. This could include:
Francophone immigration outside of Québec should not require a CLB 7 because these immigrants will not need French to be engaged in the labour market and integrate into the community. A lower CLB test level for the Francophone Mobility Program (C16) and permanent residence applications could contribute to “supporting the vitality of Francophone minority communities”. This especially pertinent for occupations in some trade, hospitality, and service sectors where gaps in the labour market could be quickly filled by those with a moderate level of French language proficiency in reading or writing.
e) “identifying mechanisms for ensuring flexibility in immigration-selection tools to react quicker to changes in labour market needs and regional economic priorities”
We agree that IRCC should implement mechanisms through which it can change its programs without delay to reflect economic and labour market changes. It appears this will be achieved with occupation-specific and region-specific draws contemplated under upcoming amendments to the Express Entry systems.
One-time programs, like the 2021 Temporary Residence to Permanent Residence program, could be region and NOC group specific (e.g., the NOC broad occupational category such as “7” for trades or, more narrowly, the first and second NOC digits for occupational category and skill level).
Required documentation could also be simplified.
f) “specifically considering occupations and essential sectors that are underrepresented in current economic immigration programs, such as health services, caregivers, agriculture, manufacturing, service industry, trades, and transportation”
The Agri-Food Pilot is limited and will soon close. The agricultural sector needs this program to be regularized and expanded to meet its needs.
The current caregiver program is not meeting Canadians’ need for support in caring for them and their loved ones because 1) few applications are being processed, 2) the processing that does occur is slow, and 3) the cap is far from meeting the demand.
We applaud the move to sector-specific open work permits for these occupations as a step toward decreasing the risk of exploitation and risk of financial harm by preventing workers from quickly moving between employers. We encourage the government to issue sector-specific work permits to all lower skilled occupations that are in demand.
Canadian experience should be only criteria for pathways to permanent residence so as to remove all barriers for these workers who will have proven they are meeting Canada’s labour market needs.
We are pleased with Motion 44 and the support it is receiving. We hope the issues we raise above will support it being effectively implemented.
On behalf of the CILA Steering Committee