Saturday, August 16, 2008

Immigration Priorities Consultation Updates



Here's an update on the consultations on the immigration priorities. The purpose of these consultations is to identify critical occupational shortages in trades and professions across Canada.

Canada’s government continues consultations on immigration priorities with national stakeholders

Ottawa, August 15, 2008 — The Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, met today with national stakeholders from business, industry, labour and non‑governmental organizations to discuss occupational priorities for immigration purposes.

This national round table was an opportunity to hear from key experts from a national perspective. It was an important element of cross-Canada consultation sessions with provinces, territories and stakeholders, including ethnic and immigrant-serving organizations, over the past month.

Today’s consultations focused on identifying critical occupational shortages in trades and professions across Canada, the role of immigration in responding to them, and any barriers to foreign credential accreditation. This information will help develop instructions for immigration officers on occupations that are identified for priority processing. The ministerial instructions, to be issued this fall, will focus on applications in the federal skilled worker category.

“There are shortages of workers in many professions and trades. These broad consultations with stakeholders have provided us with a picture of the most common and acute pressures across the country, and how immigration can play a role in addressing them,” said Minister Finley. “Our government is committed to helping newcomers and their families succeed when they come to Canada. Their success is our success.”

Following discussions with participants, the Minister emphasized the importance of provincial and territorial initiatives to better recognize foreign credentials in Canada. “We can’t prioritize occupations and professions in demand if there isn’t the necessary support and training available to help newcomers begin work in their chosen fields,” said Minister Finley.

The Minister reiterated that the instructions will not affect refugee protection, nor are they intended to affect the government’s objectives for family reunification. In fact, Canada already gives priority to applications from many family members, such as sponsored spouses and dependants. Eighty percent of these cases are finalized within eight months. “Reuniting families remains a priority for this government,” said Minister Finley. “We need to ensure that Canada continues to balance the needs of our Canadian industries in terms of labour shortages and family reunification for our newcomers.”

As face to face meetings with all stakeholders were not feasible, the public was invited to submit its input online. Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) received over 550 submissions. This feedback, along with the input provided during the regional and national round table consultations, will inform the development of the ministerial instructions. Consultations were also held with Human Resources and Social Development Canada and the Bank of Canada.

The instructions follow on 2008 budget commitments to modernize the immigration system to respond to Canada’s labour market needs, reduce wait times for new applicants, and reduce the backlog of immigration applications. The budget allocates $109 million over five years to help meet these goals.

With this funding, CIC has begun recording occupational information for applications in the current skilled worker backlog. The Department will be referring applications of interest to the provinces and territories for possible processing under the Provincial Nominee Program. CIC is also working toward increasing capacity and efficiency in missions with the largest backlogs, centralizing the receipt of applications, and reconfirming the intentions of applicants facing the longest wait times.

The instructions based on these consultations will be published in the Canada Gazette and available on the CIC website at www.cic.gc.ca. They will also be tabled in Parliament as part of the annual report on immigration. [Source]

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