Adjusting the Balance: Fixing Canada’s Economic Immigration Policies

A new Maytree Report by Naomi Alboim

Canada needs a national vision for economic immigration. A strong, cohesive, long-term vision will help Canada to be competitive in attracting people with the human capital it needs for an innovative, productive and knowledge-based economy. This goal cannot be achieved without fixing Canada’s economic immigration policies. Recent federal policy changes have been reactive and have not given due regard to the root causes of the problems or the cumulative impact. Fixing these policies and enhancing labour market services will help Canada to become the residence of choice for future citizens from around the world and to benefit from their enormous potential.

Downloads and Links

Download full report (PDF)
Download fact sheet (PDF)
Download presentation from online news conference (PDF)

Link to media release

Link to July 22 online news conference (webcast)
(Test the system requirements to determine if you have the required software to watch the webcast.)

Video Links

Naomi Alboim discusses her report, part 1.

Naomi Alboim discusses her report, part 2.

Media Articles

July 28, 2009

Globe & Mail Online Discussion: Immigrants and the job market

July 23, 2009

July 22, 2009

  • Business News Network (BNN): Taking Stock (video)
  • Canadian Immigrant: Temporary foreign workers increasing
  • CBC Radio One, Metro Morning interview with Jane Hawtin – Resident not Citizen (audio file)
  • Globe & Mail: Skilled immigrants being squeezed out as temporary workers flock to Canada
  • Toronto Star: Best immigrants not a priority
  • Toronto Star: System fails immigrants and nation (opinion piece by Naomi Alboim)

Outline of Report

Recent federal policy shifts have altered the landscape for economic immigration to Canada without public debate. Looked at individually, these shifts have both positive and negative aspects. Looked at as a whole, they represent troubling trends that are unlikely to serve Canada well in the long term.

Essentially the government has gone too far in favour of (1) short-term fixes versus long-term solutions; (2) temporary entrants versus permanent residents; and (3) reliance on provinces, employers and educational institutions for immigrant selection.

The balance must be adjusted to ensure that national and long-term goals predominate to maximize the benefits to Canada and its immigrants.

Among its fifteen recommendations, the report recommends that the federal government articulate a national vision for economic immigration through public dialogue and debate, in which a revised Federal Skilled Worker Program becomes the priority. The revisions should include more points for younger immigrants and trades people, as well as mandatory English or French language testing.

In addition, the federal government should create a database with the resumes of overseas skilled immigrant applicants, which would be searchable by employers before the immigrants even arrive.

The report also suggests that the Foreign Temporary Worker Program for low-skilled workers be halted, and that Canada should adapt and improve its services to ensure that immigrants succeed.

Summary of Recommendations

  1. Articulate a national vision for economic immigration through public dialogue and debate.
  2. Improve the capacity for long-range planning to achieve the vision.
  3. Make the Federal Skilled Worker Program Canada’s priority for economic immigration.
  4. Revise the Federal Skilled Worker Program to better match labour market needs.
  5. Connect applicants to employers by creating a searchable database.
  6. Create a national framework for provincial nominee programs that allows for provincial variation and that complements but does not replace the Federal Skilled Worker Program.
  7. Eliminate the Low Skill Pilot Project for temporary foreign workers.
  8. Monitor recruitment and working conditions of temporary foreign workers.
  9. Strengthen the review process before employers are authorized to recruit temporary foreign workers.
  10. Define the role of employers and postsecondary institutions in two-step economic immigration.
  11. Expand eligibility for the Canadian Experience Class on a one-time basis for temporary foreign workers already admitted under the Low Skill Pilot Project.
  12. Expand overseas information and services.
  13. Broaden eligibility for federally funded settlement services.
  14. Expand access for immigrants to labour market services.
  15. Fund successful and creative labour market supports such as mentoring, internships, bridge training, enhanced language training, and local multi-stakeholder councils.

About Naomi Alboim:
Naomi Alboim is a Senior Fellow at Maytree and Adjunct Professor and Co-Chair, Policy Forum at the School of Policy Studies, Queen’s University. Ms. Alboim was previously an Ontario Deputy Minister with responsibility for immigration and labour market training. She is a founding director of the board of the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC) and chairs its Intergovernmental Committee. Ms. Alboim is a recipient of Queen Elizabeth II’s Jubilee Gold Medal for Public Service and is a member of the Order of Ontario.

To set up an interview with Naomi Alboim and for more information contact:
Markus Stadelmann-Elder, 416-944-2627 ext. 284, mselder@maytree.com.