DCN ARCHIVES

September 11, 2012

Fast and flexible — Canada’s new immigration system

A new dedicated stream for skilled trades workers is one solution proposed by the federal government to build a fast and flexible economic immigration selection system focused on meeting Canada’s labour market needs.

“It looks like a step in the right direction and we’re certainly thrilled to see how quickly the government has acted upon the announced reforms,” said Canadian Construction Association (CCA) president Michael Atkinson.

“In particular the new standalone skilled trades stream now doesn’t require challenging the points system.”

The proposed changes include the creation of a new Federal Skilled Trades Class (FSTC), amendments to the Federal Skilled Worker Class (FSWC) and improvements to the Canadian Experience Class (CEC). These changes come after an extensive program evaluation, stakeholder and public consultations, as well as other research by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC).

The FSTC will assess immigrants based on their ability meeting four requirements: a qualifying offer of employment from up to two employers in Canada of at least one year duration or a Certificate of Qualification; be proficient, as prescribed by the Minister, in one of Canada’s official languages; have at least 24 months of work experience in the same skilled trade in the last five years; and meet the qualifications that satisfy the employment requirements as described by the NOC.

The new class will be open to only NOC B occupations, including industrial, electrical and construction trades.

“Our needs go beyond simply NOC B, but this is a great start, a very positive movement and it’s great to see that the government not only listens but is respondent,” said Atkinson.

“One of the things that we’ve been saying to government all along was that the current points system was not construction trades friendly, they’ve made that adjustment. We’ve also said that we felt that experience and having job offers should be a much bigger consideration than post-secondary education. And they’ve done that.”

Among the recently announced amendments to the FSWC, language would become the most important selection factor by establishing new minimum official language thresholds and increasing points for language.

The changes will also increase the emphasis on younger immigrants and increase points for Canadian work experience while reducing points for foreign work experience.

Atkinson said it just makes sense to place a greater emphasis on younger immigrants.

“You’re talking about building a future workforce, not just for projects in front of you that year, but forever. It makes some sense that somebody that’s younger is more apt to be building a career in construction, rather than an older worker.”

The proposed modification to the CEC would reduce the requirement of 24 months of Canadian work experience to 12 in the preceding 12 months. The program continues to be limited to NOC 0, A and B professions only.

Overall, Atkinson is pleased with the swiftness in which the government has moved on promises such as changes to the FSWP and the environmental assessment review.

In April of this year, Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney announced that there would be changes to the program and announced the proposed changes in mid-August.

CIC issued a call for service proposals on Aug. 20, inviting submissions from organizations with expertise in foreign credential assessment to conduct the reviews.

The deadline for submissions is Sept. 21.

Final publication is scheduled for late 2012 and the new FSWP points grid will likely take effect in January 2013.

While there is currently a pause on new applications, CIC expects to begin accepting applications again early next year.

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