IRCC expanding Economic Mobility Pilot Program to include 2000 skilled refugees

Edana Robitaille
Published: December 15, 2022

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has announced that it will be providing funding through the Economic Mobility Pilot Program (EMPP) to several partner organizations.

Over the next few years, the program will admit 2,000 skilled refugees to Canada to help with shortages in specific, high demand sectors. Immigration Minister Sean Fraser made the announcement today during a partner’s meeting in Ottawa.

The EMPP facilitates the hiring of skilled refugees by connecting them with employers who have urgent hiring needs.

The partner organizations receiving funding are Talent Beyond Boundaries, TalentLift and Jumpstart Refugee Talent. These organizations will soon be able to directly refer and support candidates. Each organization will receive training and quality assurance reviews.

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“The Canadian economy is experiencing chronic talent shortages across multiple sectors,” says Bassel Ramli, Co-Founder and Global Programs Director at Jumpstart Refugee Talent. “Meanwhile, millions of refugees around the world are seeking durable solutions to secure better lives for their families. In partnership with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, Jumpstart is supporting employers across Canada in hiring and relocating people from displaced populations.”

Among the funding, the government has allocated $6.2 million to support EMPP partner organizations.

There are six separate projects receiving the funding. The money will help the organizations identify qualified candidates overseas and support the candidate and the employers through the interview, hiring and immigration processes.

Canadas labour shortage

The announcement comes as Canada, like much of the world, is experiencing a shortage of skilled labour and a high number of job vacancies. The shortage is due to an aging population and a low birth rate. There are not enough natural-born Canadians to fill positions as they become vacant.

To combat the shortage, Canada released its highest permanent resident targets to date in the Immigration Levels Plan 2023-2025. Under this plan, the country aims to welcome over 500,000 new immigrants a year by the end of 2025.

Of these, over 300,000 newcomers will be granted permanent residence through economic immigration programs and, to further break it down, nearly 15,000 economic immigrants will come through an economic pilot program.

Who is eligible for the EMPP?

As of October 2022, Canada has already welcomed over 100 skilled refugees and their family members under the EMPP.

A refugee who settles in Canada under the EMPP has less difficulty applying for permanent residency in the long term.

EMPP facilitation measures include waiving some fees, making it easier to prove their work experience, and letting them use loans to fund travel costs, settlement needs, start-up costs and fees that cannot be waived. In most cases, IRCC processes applications within 6 months.

Refugees who wish to immigrate under the EMPP must be able to prove that they are both refugees and eligible under an existing economic immigration pilot program such as the:

Those who are applying under the Atlantic Immigration Program, or the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot do not need to meet some of the normal eligibility requirements. For example, proving the number of hours asked for in the timeframe listed, although they must still prove they worked the same number of hours in general.

Refugees also must provide a referral letter from one of the partner organizations.

What is the EMPP?

The EMPP was launched as a research project in 2018 and has had two phases. The first phase proved that, given targeted help, there are skilled refugees who can meet the eligibility criteria of existing economic immigration programs. This phase helped shed light on a large, untapped pool of potential skilled candidates who can fill the gaps in Canada’s workforce.

The current phase involves IRCC targeting to settle 500 refugees and their families. The outcome of these settlements will help IRCC further understand how to maximize the potential of skilled refugees and expand the EMPP.

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