Through recent changes to the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program, Canada has made it easier for graduating international students to obtain work permits and acquire Canadian work experience. Not only will the changes help Canada’s international student retention rate and ease current skills shortages, but they will also help these students on their way to becoming successful Permanent Residents – new immigrants who have already integrated into Canadian society thanks to the education and work experience they have obtained in Canada.
Archives for April 2008
The minority Conservative government tabled a bill on March 14, 2008 that proposed amendments to Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA). Since that time, there has been much debate over these controversial reforms. Over a month later, the Conservative’s budget implementation bill (which includes the immigration reforms) has passed second reading in the House of Commons but still has not become law. Grumblings from opposition parties and Canadian immigrant communities have called into question whether this bill will make it through, or whether it will be the ultimate trigger for a Canadian federal election.
Since the tabling of the immigration reforms in the House of Commons, the opposition parties have been questioning its shortcomings and the unspecified implications it may have on the current system. Initially, the Conservatives were reluctant to expand on the details of the amendments. However, as criticism and speculation mounted, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) Minister Diane Finley released the principles that would guide implementation of the amendments to IRPA. A senior official from CIC held a briefing to explain the finer points of the immigration reforms in an effort to assuage the concerns of Canadian immigrants and other stakeholder groups.
The senior official explained that the proposed amendments would give the immigration minister the power to fast-track applications from workers who have specific skills that are in demand in Canada. Doctors and health-care professionals were cited as examples. He stated that CIC will create a high-priority list based on consultations with the provinces and territories, the Bank of Canada, Human Resources and Social Development Canada, as well as employers and labour unions. This “favoured-status” list could initially include about a dozen different skills sets, and will be transparent to the public. It would evolve over time based on the changing needs of the Canadian labour market. The official suggested that family reunification would also be on the priority list.
The amendments would also allow the minister to set annual limits on the number of applications to be processed, he went on to say. This means that applications received too late in the year (after the limit has been reached) would be returned.
The senior CIC official assured that the proposed amendments to IRPA would be in compliance with Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Canadian Human Rights Act. “The possibility that we would discriminate on the base of race, religion, language, or geographic destination is simply not possible,” he stated.
The proposed changes would only affect applications that were received on or after February 27, 2008.
After hearing these clarifications, the opposition parties were still skeptical of the Conservative’s motives, and the fact that they buried the immigration reforms in the larger budget implementation bill. One of the opposition parties, the NDP, tabled a motion to remove the immigration section from the larger bill so that the amendments could be studied more closely.
Because the motion sought to alter the budget bill, it was considered a matter of confidence, meaning that if the House had voted for the NDP motion, the current Conservative government would have fallen and an election would have been called.
This, however, did not happen. The minority Conservative government easily survived the vote earlier this month thanks to the support of the Opposition Liberals. Although the Liberals have stated their disagreement with the amendments to IRPA, they let the bill pass, stating that they were not prepared to hang an election on the proposed reforms at that time. The budget bill consequently made it through second reading and is now being reviewed by the finance committee. The Liberals intend to present amendments to the proposed reforms to the Citizenship and Immigration Committee and are feeling confident that their amendments will pass with the support of the other opposition parties.
Immigration Minister Diane Finley has publicly stated that the government has no intention of changing the bill and that the Liberal amendments would be rejected.
Once committee debates are finished, the bill will head back to the House of Commons for a third reading and a final vote. This will likely take place during the first half of May. If the bill makes it through, it will then be reviewed by Senate and, if passed by Senate, will become law.
However, if the current Liberal and Conservative positions hold, the bill may not pass third reading and a Canadian federal election may be called for June.
At this time there is no certainty that the bill will become law. For the most recent updates on this story, keep checking the Immigration News section of www.canadavisa.com.
The Family Connections category is the newest addition to the Newfoundland and Labrador Provincial Nomination Program (NLPNP). Newfoundland and Labrador residents can now sponsor family members from abroad to relocate and work in the province.
In announcing the new NLPNP Family Connections category, Human Resources Minister Shawn Skinner noted that residents who are surrounded by family members are more likely to feel attached to their community. The Newfoundland and Labrador government hopes that the new PNP category will therefore improve immigrant retention in the province.
To be eligible, the sponsoring family member must have resided in Newfoundland and Labrador for at least one year and must be able to provide assistance to the applicant during the immigration process and upon arrival. This PNP category does not cover family members who would otherwise be eligible for Citizenship and Immigration Family Class Sponsorship (dependant children, spouses, common-law partners, parents and grandparents).
More geared towards applicants who will contribute to the work force in Newfoundland and Labrador, applicants should either have a permanent full-time job offer from a Newfoundland and Labrador employer, or the intention and ability to obtain one. Applicants must be between 18-49 years of age, have at least one year of work experience, a diploma, certificate, or degree from a post-secondary institution, and have sufficient English language abilities to work in the province.
The applicant will need to have enough money to live upon arrival ($10,000 for the applicant and $2,000 for additional family members), which can come from the principal applicant, the spouse, or the sponsor. The sponsor will also have to sign an Affidavit of Support.
The Family Connections category of the NLPNP adds onto the existing Skilled Worker, Immigrant Entrepreneur, and Immigrant Investor categories. The Newfoundland and Labrador government is also planning to develop an international graduate category for its PNP.
The number of visible minorities in Canada has topped the five million mark for the first time in Canada’s history, now representing 16.2 per cent of the country’s population. Canadian employers are learning how to manage employees from different cultural backgrounds and are creating programs and training sessions to ensure that newcomers become comfortable in their new workplace culture so that they can perform to their full potential.
From 2001-2006, the visible minority population in Canada grew by 26.2 per cent, far outdoing total country population growth of 5.4 per cent over the same period. Statistics Canada reports that if current growth trends continue, visible minorities will account for about one fifth of Canada’s overall population by 2017.
To reflect Canada’s increasingly diverse population and workforce, Mediacorp Canada, the editors of ‘Canada’s Top 100 Employers’, has created the ‘Top 25 Best Diversity Employers’ and the ‘Best Employers for New Canadians’. These rankings recognize Canadian employers who have incorporated diversity into their business strategies and who offer leading programs to help new Canadians transition into the workplace. Although they represent a recent trend in Canada, diversity programs have seen widespread adoption and rapid evolution.
Research has repeatedly demonstrated that diversity in the workplace improves innovation, productivity and morale, reduces turnover and ultimately benefits the bottom line.
Effective management of diversity and of the integration of newcomers from different cultures is therefore paramount. Employees from diverse cultures may not realize how employer expectations in Canada differ from what they are used to. One of the most consistent differences among cultures is hierarchy, notes Lionel Laroche, president of diversity training company MCB Solutions. “People who grow up with hierarchy see distinctions of rank everywhere and believe someone who has a higher rank is to be deferred to.” This can put immigrants at a disadvantage in Canada, where independent thinking is encouraged.
More and more Canadian companies are requiring managers to attend cultural training sessions to help them understand diverse backgrounds and how to manage their diverse staff. New hires receive orientation on work styles in Canada on issues from social interactions and norms to participation in meetings and the employee’s role in the organization. Mentor programs and buddy systems have helped new immigrant employees make the transition into their Canadian workplace and community more quickly.
New immigrants – an increasingly important element to population growth – will soon represent 100 per cent of Canada’s labour force growth. Canadian employers with strong diversity programs are best poised for future labour force and business growth, both at home and in international markets.
The Conservative led minority government has recently introduced a bill in Parliament that contains significant changes to Canada’s immigration law. If passed, the proposed amendments will empower the immigration minister to instruct visa officers to take certain candidates quickly, hold some applications for consideration at a later date, and return others without any consideration at all. No clue is given in advance as to which type of applicants will be favoured and which will be spurned.