Temporary foreign workers get first dibs under express entry

More teething pains or more substantive problems? Early results or signalling a trend?

Jason Kenney, who was responsible for the Harper government’s transformation of Canada’s immigration system during his time as immigration minister, on Friday touted express entry as “a system that’s fast, that connects people to the labour market so they can realize their dreams and fulfil their potential upon arrival in Canada.”

“New economic immigrants are arriving in Canada in months rather than years,” Kenney said during a news conference in Vancouver.

“A growing percentage have jobs lined up before they get to Canada rather than being stuck in survival jobs for years following their arrival.”

While that may be the goal, express entry has opened the door to very few new economic immigrants. To date, it has favoured a large number of temporary foreign workers and other foreign nationals already in the country.

Over 85 per cent of the foreign nationals who were selected for admission under express entry in the first six months of the year — 11,047 out of 12,304 — were already in Canada, according to a report published by the Department of Citizenship and Immigration in July.

The report shows that three per cent were living in India, followed by two per cent in the U.S. and one per cent in the Philippines. Even smaller percentages resided in other countries.

As of July 6, Canada had issued 844 visas to foreign nationals and their dependents resulting in only 411 admissions being fast tracked for permanency residency.

“Implementing the express entry system was a significant undertaking and we continue to monitor it closely,” the government report said, cautioning it is only “a snapshot” intended to capture “one moment in time.”

While immigration officials are working tirelessly to iron the kinks out of the system, the report said Canada will meet its immigration quota not through express entry but by drawing from a backlog of applications submitted under the old system.

The majority of new economic immigrants to Canada will not be drawn using the new system until it’s in full flight in 2017.

‘Unusable’ for businesses

Businesses say the system’s biggest flaw is a new requirement borrowed from the newly reformed temporary foreign worker program, which Kenney and Chris Alexander announced last year following a series of stories published by CBC’s Go Public team alleging abuse of the program.

Under express entry, it isn’t enough that economic immigrants have to line up a job before applying to come to Canada — that offer must also be backed by a positive labour market impact assessment. That assessment, or LMIA, is a document all employers now need to hire a foreign worker over a Canadian one.

This is a new requirement under an economic stream that sees upwards of 250,000 new permanent residents admitted each year.

“It’s made it unusable for many employers that we hear from and for small and medium businesses,” said Sarah Anson-Cartwright, the director of skills policy at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, the largest business association in the country representing some 200,000 employers

Members of the Chamber, she said, are disillusioned with a process that has become too “onerous.” Employers are complaining that their assessment forms are being rejected due to inadvertent omissions or typos.

Source: Temporary foreign workers get first dibs under express entry – Politics – CBC News

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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