Canada Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Marco E. L. Mendicino, announced on Wednesday what he describes as “an innovative pathway” to permanent residence for over 90,000 essential workers and international graduates, including Caribbean nationals, who are actively contributing to Canada’s economy.
Mendicino said these special public policies will grant permanent status to temporary workers and international graduates who are already in Canada and who possess the skills and experience that the country need to fight the pandemic and accelerate the economic recovery.
“The focus of this new pathway will be on temporary workers employed in our hospitals and long-term care homes, and on the frontlines of other essential sectors, as well as international graduates who are driving the economy of tomorrow,” he said.
To be eligible, Mendicino said workers must have at least one year of Canadian work experience in a health-care profession or another pre-approved essential occupation.
International graduates must have completed an eligible Canadian post-secondary program within the last 4 years, and no earlier than January 2017, he said.
Effective May 6, 2021, Mendicino said Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will begin accepting applications under three streams: 20,000 applications for temporary workers in health care; 30,000 applications for temporary workers in other selected essential occupations; and 40,000 applications for international students who graduated from a Canadian institution.
The immigration minister said the streams will remain open until November 5, 2021, or until they have reached their limit.
Up to 90,000 new permanent residents will be admitted under these three streams, Mendicino said.
To promote Canada’s official languages, he said three additional streams with no intake caps have also been launched for French-speaking or bilingual candidates.
“Communities across Canada benefit from French-speaking and bilingual newcomers, and this pathway will contribute to the vitality of these Francophone minority communities,” Mendicino said.
“As we continue the fight against the pandemic, immigration will remain critical to our economic recovery by addressing labor shortages and adding growth to our workforce,” he said.
“With an accelerated pathway to permanent residency, these special public policies will encourage essential temporary workers and international graduates to put down roots in Canada and help us retain the talented workers we need, particularly in our health-care system,” he added.
“Today’s announcement will help us achieve our 2021 Immigration Levels Plan, which will see Canada welcome 401,000 new permanent residents. The skilled newcomers and international graduates welcomed under our plan will help create jobs and drive long-term growth in Canada,” Mendicino continued.
“The pandemic has shone a bright light on the incredible contributions of newcomers,” he said. “These new policies will help those with a temporary status to plan their future in Canada, play a key role in our economic recovery and help us build back better. Our message to them is simple: your status may be temporary, but your contributions are lasting—and we want you to stay.”
IRCC said that these public policies apply to workers in 40 health-care occupations, as well as 95 other essential jobs across a range of fields, like caregiving, and food production and distribution.
“These policies build on significant steps that we’ve already taken to help those here temporarily stay permanently, including new measures to ensure that international students don’t miss out on opportunities due to the pandemic and the largest draw in the history of the Express Entry system,” it said.
IRCC said graduates and workers must have proficiency in one of Canada’s official languages; meet general admissibility requirements; and be present, authorized to work and working in Canada at the time of their application to qualify.
IRCC said Canada faces serious demographic challenges. In 1971, it said there were 6.6 people of working age for each senior.
Today, IRCC said there are three; and, by 2035, there will be only two.
“Without newcomers, future generations will end up paying more to sustain the public services we rely on,” it said.
According to Statistics Canada (January 2021), immigrants who previously held a work permit often report higher wages one year after becoming permanent residents.
On October 30, 2020, Mendicino tabled the 2021‒2023 Immigration Levels Plan, which set out a path for “responsible increases” to immigration targets to help the Canadian economy recover from COVID-19, drive future growth and create jobs for middle-class Canadians.
“The pandemic has highlighted the contribution of immigrants to the well-being of our communities and across all sectors of the economy,” he said. “Our health-care system relies on immigrants to keep Canadians safe and healthy.
“Other industries, such as information technology companies and our farmers and producers, also rely on the talent of newcomers to maintain supply chains, expand their businesses and, in turn, create more jobs for Canadians,” he added.
Although IRCC continues to accept and process applications throughout the pandemic, Mendicino said the global travel restrictions and capacity constraints led to a shortfall in admissions over the last several months.
To compensate for the shortfall and ensure Canada has the workers it needs to fill crucial labor market gaps and remain competitive on the world stage, the immigration minister said the 2021 to 2023 levels plan aims to continue welcoming Caribbean and other immigrants at a rate of about 1 percent of the population of Canada, including 401,000 permanent residents in 2021, 411,000 in 2022 and 421,000 in 2023.
The previous plan set targets of 351,000 in 2021 and 361,000 in 2022, Mendicino said.