Immigration Minister Sean Fraser discusses Express Entry reforms

Shelby Thevenot, Kareem El-Assal
Published: June 24, 2022

The Canadian government has passed a bill that will allow the immigration minister to invite Express Entry candidates based on an economic goal.

Bill C-19 received royal assent on June 23, 2022. It will give the minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) the authority to invite Express Entry candidates by occupation, language ability, intended destination, or any other group that supports Canada's economic goals.

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Immigration Minister Sean Fraser told CIC News in a face-to-face interview on June 21 that he hopes it will pass through the Senate, and that the new authorities will be implemented soon. The minister said although Express Entry gives Canada a competitive advantage, there is room for improvement.

"Where [the Express Entry system] could be improved is at present if there are particular challenges that your economy is facing it might be facing in the long term we don't have the ability to tailor the invitations to apply to the Express Entry system to meet those in-demand skills or qualifications," Fraser said.

"If you're in a circumstance where you have an abundance of applications that are all in one particular sector, and that sector doesn't have high needs in Canada the Express Entry system as it exists today, is likely to bring in people that might not be perfectly matched to the needs of the Canadian economy."

The new authorities will allow IRCC to include selection factors that would support Canada's labour needs based on sector, region, and language competencies. The minister said that in doing so, Canada would be able to select more immigrants who are already primed for success in the labour market.

"The goal is really to maximize the contribution that a newcomer can make in their communities so they're set up for success when they arrive, but also that they're going to meet the needs of the community where they're going to reside," Fraser said. "I expect we're going to see potential increase of retention rates have opened up because people are coming in where they know they have opportunities because that was the basis of their invitation to apply."

Critics of the bill say the new authorities could allow for special interest groups to lobby for a certain type of candidate. Amendments were made in earlier drafts of the bill to reflect the need for a transparent selection process. Fraser acknowledged this concern.

"If I sit at my office in Ottawa and start making decisions about what regions and what sectors should benefit from this new policy I would be going down a very dangerous path," Fraser said. "I need to engage with people at a local community level. I need to engage with my provincial and territorial counterparts. I need to engage with business councils and sectors that have high needs so we can understand what their needs are."

Special interview series with Minister Fraser

CIC News sat down with the minister on June 21, 2022 to discuss the future of Canadian immigration.

Over the coming weeks, CIC News is releasing a special series of articles elaborating on the interview with Minister Fraser on topics including:

  • Part 1: Express Entry all-program draws tentatively resuming on July 6
  • improving application processing and client experience
  • Canadian citizenship fees
  • legalizing undocumented workers in Canada
  • the Immigration Levels Plan 2023-2025
  • creating more immigration pathways for foreign workers and students, and
  • how his life has changed since he became minister

Minister Fraser was in Toronto to speak at Collision, one of the world’s largest technology conferences.

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