Feds say increased immigration targets key for economic recovery, but critics wary of ambitious plan’s feasibility

The more fundamental question is not whether the government can manage these levels of immigration but rather whether they are appropriate given the COVID-induced recession and the impact on immigrant economic integration. Nick Nanos’ comments noteworthy:

The government plans to welcome more than 400,000 newcomers to the country next year, but Conservative MP Raquel Dancho is warning that backlogs in Canada’s immigration system could be a problem.

Ambitious immigration targets are part of the Liberal government’s economic recovery plan. The arrival of new permanent residents has plummeted this year as the COVID-19 pandemic has shut borders and restricted travel across the world.

Leading pollster Nik Nanos said the government doesn’t need to defend bringing in more Canadians, but “I think they have to explain what the urgency is to bring more Canadians in now when we’re in the midst of a pandemic—and I think those are two different issues.”

In late October, Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino (Eglinton-Lawrence, Ont.) announced a new government target of 401,000 new permanent residents in 2021 as part of Canada’s economic recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic, the first step in a plan that would see immigration levels increase by a little over one per cent of the Canadian population every year for the next three years.

As part of Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland’s fall economic update on Nov. 30, the government highlighted their commitment to “an immigration system that supports economic growth, diversity, and helps build vibrant, dynamic and inclusive communities.”

“Immigrants play an important role in driving Canada’s economic growth, contributing to half of the average real GDP growth over 2016-2019,” according to the statement.

But Ms. Dancho (Kildonan-St. Paul, Man.), her party’s immigration critic, told The Hill Times that the Conservatives “absolutely believe that economic growth is also tied to immigration, and the family reunification that goes with it,” but she said she was skeptical of how the government would reach such an ambitious goal.

“They won’t even achieve half of their goal this year, and now they’re promising what we understand to be the largest influx of permanent residents ever in any single year in Canadian history next year. But I just don’t see how that’s going to happen,” said Ms. Dancho.

Conservative MP Raquel Dancho, her party’s immigration critic, says she has ‘a lot of concerns’ around the feasibility of bringing in more than 400,000 newcomers given backlogs in the system caused by the pandemic.

“If you look at what’s happening with confirmations of permanent residents, there’s well over 10,000 that we’re aware of abroad that were approved, did everything right—were highly skilled, set to come to Canada, sold their homes, took their kids out of school, quit their jobs—and then the government with their [Order In Council] that closed the border, said that they need the travel authorization form, and they haven’t issued those to most of those 10,000 people,” said Ms. Dancho.

“So if they can’t even get these 10,000 people already approved—real people that are suffering—I’m not sure how they’re going to get 401,000 permanent residents approved next year,” said Ms. Dancho. “I have a lot of concerns about that, even beyond the economic growth opportunity of immigration, just the feasibility of bringing in this many people when they’re frankly mistreating the people that they tried to bring in this year.”

Mr. Nanos’ firm Nanos Research took a poll on the issue in November and found that just under two in five Canadians think that Canada should accept the same amount of immigrants in 2021 as we did in 2019.

“What clearly exists is that when Canadians are asked about their support for immigration, accepting refugees and bringing new Canadians into Canada, when anyone tests on that principle, there’s a significantly high level of support,” said Mr. Nanos.

“Canadians understand that most Canadians have come from another place, that new Canadians contribute to the economy, and that we need new Canadians in order to stay prosperous,” said Mr. Nanos. “What we found, in the specific research that we’ve most recently done on immigration, is that there’s not a lot of appetite to bring in more people at this particular time.”

“There’s support—but we tested on the specific numbers,” said Mr. Nanos. “We tested on the 340,000 number—do people want more, do they want to keep it at the same level, or do they want less, and what was clear was that the appetite to bring in more than 340,000 at this particular point in time is actually quite weak.”

Mr. Nanos said he didn’t believe these findings means that Canadians are xenophobic or that they aren’t accepting of refugees.

“But they do see that the economy is in different levels of shutdown right across the country, that Canadians have uncertainty about their own job prospects because many people are being paid to stay home,” said Mr. Nanos.

Part of the personal brand of the prime minister and the Liberal government is being welcoming of refugees, according to Mr. Nanos, pointing out that one of the dividing lines when Mr. Trudeau won his first election in 2015 was the welcoming of Syrian refugees.

“So I see the welcoming of new Canadians as part of the DNA of the prime minister and the Liberal Party at this point in time, and it’s pretty clear [they] believe that it’s not only the right thing to do, but that it’s good for the Canadian economy in the long run, and is part of the growth strategy for Canada,” said Mr. Nanos.

Number of new permanent residents has ‘plummeted’ in 2020

Immigration Lawyer Colin Singer, who is the managing partner at Immigration.ca, told The Hill Times that the number of permanent resident arrivals has plummeted in 2020 compared to the year prior, with only 143,465 new arrivals in the first nine months of the year compared to 263,945 in 2019.

“With immigration levels set to rise above 400,000 newcomers per year [starting] next year, the federal government first plans to invest $72.1-million in a modern, digital platform for receiving and processing immigration applications,” according to Mr. Singer.

“It will then spend a further $15-million on enhancing foreign credential recognition, aiming to cut the time it takes for newcomers to integrate into Canadian society by finding jobs in their field more quickly,” wrote Mr. Singer in an emailed response to The Hill Times.

Claudia Hepburn, CEO of Windmill Microlending, a charity that offers microloans to help skilled immigrants and refugees to continue their careers in Canada, said the COVID-19 pandemic has shone a spotlight on the labour market shortages that Canada faces in many sectors, including health, IT, engineering and STEM, as well as transportation.

“Skilled immigration is crucial to any plan to solve those shortages, but sometimes they need help to become job ready,” wrote Ms. Hepburn in an emailed response to The Hill Times. “The not-for-profit sector plays a crucial role in helping immigrants become job ready. A successful plan for integrating immigrants into the labour force is as important to solving labour shortages as an ambitious immigration target. We need both.”

Along with increasing the numbers of immigrants, Canada also needs to make the pathways to employment as accessible as possible, according to Ms. Hepburn.

“This means investment in the communication of the resources available to assist in their employment journeys,” said Ms. Hepburn. “Support is also required for those resources and organizations with experience in assisting immigrants on their employment journey in order to enable them [to] scale and facilitate the increase in numbers.”

‘We need newcomers to help our economy bounce back’

Alexander Cohen, Mr. Mendicino’s press secretary, said Canada’s short term recovery and long term prosperity rely on immigration.

“We need newcomers to help our economy bounce back after the pandemic, and address the stark demographic challenges we face with an aging population,” wrote Mr. Cohen in an emailed response to The Hill Times. “Put simply: immigrants create jobs.”

“One in three business owners is an immigrant, and our plan sets out a path for responsible increases to immigration to help the economy recover, with about 60 per cent of admissions in the economic class,” according to Mr. Cohen. “Newcomers also represent about a third of those working on the front lines of the pandemic, like family doctors, pharmacists and nurse’s aides.”

“We’ll continue welcoming the best and brightest from around the world, who have contributed so much throughout the pandemic and bring the skills our businesses need to thrive.”

Bloc Québécois MP Christine Normandin, her party’s immigration critic, told The Hill Times that the province of Quebec is not necessarily looking to raise it’s immigration level moving forward—and that the province has in fact decided in past years to lower the rate of selection in order to deal with backlogs in the system.

Bloc Québécois MP Christine Normandin, her party’s immigration critic, says ‘we can be quicker on our feet to select people that will able to join the job market’ once tens of thousands of open case files for skilled workers are closed.

“There’s still something around 35,000 open case files for skilled workers that we want to have processed, so when it’s done, we can be quicker on our feet to select people that will able to join the job market,” said Ms. Normandin.

But in recent conversations with her constituents, Ms. Normandin said that she’s spoken with many industry representatives and business owners and has found that even in a context of high unemployment, it’s also possible to have workforce shortages.

“It’s possible to have both at the same time, and they’re a bit afraid that at some point, immigration will decide to cut on some streams of immigrations, for example the low wage stream, because of the high rate of unemployment,” said Ms. Normandin. “But it’s still hard to find members of the local workforce in some cases. Or when it comes to skilled workers, even though there’s a high rate of unemployment in Quebec, it doesn’t mean that all of a sudden you’ll find welders with 10 years of experience.”

“So we still need immigration even though there’s a high rate of unemployment, and that’s something we hear a lot,” said Ms. Normandin.

Source: Feds say increased immigration targets key for economic recovery, but critics wary of ambitious plan’s feasibility

Canada’s College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants Act Comes Into Force

Good overview by one of the immigration law firms:

We will see how well the new regime works and whether it results in better practices and more professional immigration consultants:

Canada’s College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants Act has come into force, representing another step on the way to forming a new self-regulating body for immigration consultants. 

The act provides the framework for the creation of the College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants (CICC), the body replacing the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC).

The act, which came into force on Thursday, November 26, 2020, but was first tabled in 2019, will see the introduction of a new licensing regime and a new code of professional conduct for immigration consultants.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) says the CICC will be subject to ‘significant government oversight’.

The government will establish the code of conduct, set the composition of the College Board of Directors, and appoint up to a majority of directors, IRCC says.

“We’re taking decisive action to hold immigration and citizenship consultants to account by improving oversight and increasing accountability to protect both the public and consultants in good standing from dishonest consultants who are taking advantage of vulnerable people,” said Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino.

College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants Act

1.  Creates a licensing regime for immigration and citizenship consultants and requires that licensees comply with a code of professional conduct established by the minister, through regulations to be tabled by the government.

2. Authorizes the College’s Complaints Committee to conduct investigations into a licensee’s conduct and activities.

3. Authorizes the College’s Discipline Committee to take or require action if it determines that a licensee has committed professional misconduct or was incompetent.

4. Prohibits persons who are not licensees from using certain titles and representing themselves to be licensees and provides that the College may seek an injunction for the contravention of those prohibitions.

5. Gives the immigration minister the authority to determine the number of directors on the board of directors and to require the Board to do anything that is advisable to carry out the purposes of that Act.

6. Gives the new regulatory body to hear complaints regarding licensed members under the former regulatory body (ICCRC).

7. Fines doubled for consultants found to be violating rules.

In reality, the formation of the CICC represents a missed opportunity for the federal government to bring the regulation of immigration consultants directly under its remit. Self-regulatory bodies like the ICCRC and its predecessors have failed to the required job.

Ottawa should follow the example of Quebec, which regulates immigration consultants within the provincial government Ministry of Immigration. There is an established infrastructure that successfully regulates immigration consultants, without the repetitive problems faced by ICCRC and its predecessor.

The new act comes after years of investigations and reports citing abuse and violations by licensed and unlicensed consultants in the Canadian immigration industry.

The regulation of the immigration consultancy industry has long been a source of controversy, even before a Standing Committee report in 2017.

That report called for action in three main areas:

  1. The legislative framework for the body responsible for governing immigration and citizenship consultants.
  2. Investigations and enforcement concerning the offense of practicing while not authorized and other offences.
  3. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada procedures for processing applications and for communicating with clients and with prospective applicants.

Previously there have been a number of damning reports into the conduct of the existing ICCRC, exposing an unprofessional organization beset with infighting and poor practices.

An overwhelming concern is that unregulated ‘ghost’ consultants who operate in Canada and overseas without sanction.

The previous legal framework did not enable ICCRC to police unlicensed consultants inside Canada or abroad.  

This left the task for CBSA and RCMP, as well as the federal government, to try and address this problem. A number of high-profile fraud cases have thus made their way into the Canadian legal system.

The advice for immigration candidates is to exercise caution when hiring an immigration consultant.

Candidates who wish to receive representation are encouraged to hire a qualified immigration lawyer, monitored by a provincial law society.

Source: Canada’s College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants Act Comes Into Force

This program lets global investors buy a Canadian business — then hire themselves as foreign workers. Proposed changes will kill it, some say

Would be helpful to have a formal IRCC/ESDC evaluation of this “loophole” and the outcomes of those availing themselves of it (IRCC’s evaluation of the investor immigrant program resulted in the program being killed under the previous government given its limited contribution to the economy):

With years of experience managing a travel agency in Saudi Arabia, Asgar Khan spotted an investment opportunity in Canada’s home-care sector.

So he purchased a franchised senior-care agency and applied for a special government approval document — an owner/operator LMIA.

The document is designed to attract migrant investors who want to start a business in Canada then come to this country on a temporary work permit so they can run it.

Now, almost two years after he opened his first Right at Home Canada location in Ajax, Ont., Khan has bought the right to open a second outlet in Kingston. He says he has 57 employees, from personal support workers to nurses, between his two locations.

“The owner/operator LMIA is a great program for people who want to run their own businesses in Canada,” says the 38-year-old native of India, who is in Canada on a work permit. “The (foreign) investment can create jobs and be a huge economic boost for Canada, especially during the pandemic. … It’s a win-win for immigrants and Canada.”

However, some immigration consultants and lawyers say they fear proposed changes by Employment and Social Development Canada, the federal department that approves the LMIA, or labour-market impact assessment, will essentially kill the program.

In recent consultations with lawyers and consultants, federal officials said they’re considering changes that would include requiring that a business be bought and in operation for at least one year before a person could apply for a LMIA and that the owner/operator position be advertised to ensure all attempts are made to fill that job with a Canadian first.

That could mean someone like Khan would need to advertise for someone to do his job and only get approval for an owner/operator LMIA — and a work permit — if a Canadian can’t be found.

“Which investor in their right mind will invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in a business that they cannot oversee?” said immigration consultant Sharmila Perera, who has experience helping clients in the program.

“Why would a person invest so much money in a business in Canada if they are not allowed to come and work in their own business? They can’t run it from overseas.”

The program has become increasingly popular in recent years. The number of the owner/operator LMIA applications skyrocketed from 228 in 2016 to 505 last year. In 2019, there were 372 applications approved, according to Employment and Social Development Canada.

What makes the owner/operator LMIA attractive is that, in some ways, it offers a loophole in the immigration system.

It lets someone buy a business in this country, then essentially hire himself or herself as a temporary foreign worker. Then, they use that job offer in a bid to become a permanent resident.

Under Canada’s immigration system, applicants are awarded points for attributes such as language proficiency, educational achievements and professional experience.

Typically, work experience gained through self-employment is ineligible for points under the immigration point grid.

Yet someone applying for permanent residence can qualify for as many as the 200 bonus points through employment arranged by a Canadian employer.

Those with jobs under an LMIA qualify. They receive bonus points, ranging between 50 and 200, depending on the level of their positions. Senior managers and CEOs can claim the maximum points.

“To get 200 points, you need to be a senior manager with at least six or more employees, which will cost you ideally at least $250,000 to buy or start a business. Jobs must be created or saved, so it is perfect” as an economic stimulant during the pandemic, Immigration consultant Phil Mooney said.

An applicant’s fate can hinge on the job they’ve created for themselves.

“If the business fails before you get it, you are only a temporary foreign worker, so you have to leave Canada” because one would no longer have a job,” Mooney said. “Once you get your permanent residence, there are no terms and conditions to be met.”

Not everyone is convinced this is how the system is meant to work.

Immigration lawyer Ravi Jain, president of the Canadian Bar Association’s immigration division, said these individuals should be ineligible for the bonus points for permanent residence because they are essentially self-employed.

“The program has been heavily marketed around the world as a pathway for immigration. But people are being misled. I don’t think it is (a clear pathway). That’s a grey area,” Jain said, speaking on behalf of his own law practice.

“There is a tremendous amount of room for discretion (from immigration officials evaluating an application). I think they are responding to that and are essentially looking to kill the program.”

There are also concerns in some quarters that the program might be abused.

Immigration lawyer Colin Singer said he can see how people might abuse it, by buying a business and flipping it back a year later after they obtain the coveted permanent residency in Canada.

But Singer said the program works well for those applicants who do not fit squarely into other immigration programs.

“Every program, no matter what it is, is subject to abuse. Why? Because there are so many people who want to come to Canada and they are willing to do anything,” said Singer. “That being said, there are other ways to control it. You don’t kill the entire program.”

The new rules, in particular the need to advertise the jobs to for a Canadian first, might very well spell the program’s demise, Singer predicted.

“I don’t think people are going to be able to prove that the advertising wasn’t able to capture qualified managers (in Canada) for a gas station or a Starbucks. You are not talking about the highest skills that are needed.”

Employment and Social Development Canada said the owner/operator LMIAs is not a formal stream of the temporary foreign worker program. It would not say when the new changes would take effect.

A department spokesperson said the proposed changes are all part of its ongoing program reviews.

However, it appears the newly proposed, one-year operational requirement has already been used to assess some applications.

Sanya Kalra, 37, along with her husband, Sunny Kalra, bought a franchised pizzeria in Brampton with their own savings but her owner/operator LMIA was refused in October, the same date she received her building permit for the George Street location. She was told she’s only eligible after the shop is opened and in operation for a year.

The couple from India have already paid the bulk of the money but are unable to oversee the project themselves and must count on the help of her brother-in-law in Canada, who has a full-time day job himself in human resources.

“We have invested so much money in it. It’s just so difficult to manage it due to our different time zone here,” said Karla, who stays up in the wee hours to remotely administer and supervise the restaurant opening, now scheduled for mid-December. “It just doesn’t make any sense to me.”

Source: This program lets global investors buy a Canadian business — then hire themselves as foreign workers. Proposed changes will kill it, some say

Is It Time To Revive Canada’s Federal Immigrant Investor Program? – Immigration – Canada

Short answer: no it is not. And Singer conveniently omits the major reason for the program’s termination: no real benefits to Canada (see the IRCC evaluation Evaluation of the Federal Business Immigration Programhttps://www.canada.ca › ircc › ircc › english › pdf › pub › e2-2013_fbip):

As the US hikes investment limits for the EB-5, Canada should consider reviving the suspended Canada Immigrant Investor Program.

As the US implements a massive 80 percent hike in minimum investments for the EB-5 program, it is an appropriate time to question the rationale behind Canada’s decision to completely ignore investment immigration. 

The Canada Immigrant Investor Program was one of the most sought-after investment immigration programs in the world when it was terminated in June 2014. 

Reasons for its termination included:

  • High demand from wealthy investors.

  • Spiraling real estate prices due to the influx of foreign funds into the sector. 

  • Lack of real benefits to the Canadian economy, and 

  • Disquiet over sale of permanent residence status and, indirectly, Canadian citizenship.

Source: Is It Time To Revive Canada’s Federal Immigrant Investor Program? – Immigration – Canada

Feds should reboot cash-for-residence immigration program: Colin Singer

I am never sure whether to take these arguments – follow Austria, Malta and Cyprus models – seriously, or is it simply a way for immigration lawyers to expand their potential business? Singer made the same arguments at the Conference Board Immigration Summit this April.

CIC/IRCC’s study on the former business investor immigrant program was clear on the lack of benefits to Canada; there have been enough studies on the Quebec program showing that most leave Quebec for British Columbia (Study reveals awfulness of Canadian investor immigration; income tax averages C$1,400 per millionaire | South China Morning Post).

Factor in the debates over housing prices in Toronto and Vancouver, and the impact that overseas investors are having on the housing market, hard to see how expansion would benefit the broader Canadian economy or society:

The way out of this morass is clear. The Trudeau government should immediately get on with the task of redesigning the Immigrant Investor Venture Capital Pilot Program. It just needs to create the right policies and a restructured program that will succeed in attracting carefully chosen high-net-worth businesspeople who will bring billions of dollars to Canadian businesses and create new businesses that will in turn create more jobs.

The benefits of the Quebec immigrant investor program to that province are undeniable. From 2001 to 2016, it gave $714 million to 4,737 businesses in 17 territories in the province. As well, a compelling 2010 study conducted by three economists in Ontario and Quebec concluded that an average immigrant investor family directly injects more than $770,000 into the economy.

Additionally, a recent Statistics Canada report on immigration and business ownership in Canada, the first of its kind, confirms that immigrants are more likely than Canadians to establish businesses.

Ottawa should also consider establishing a citizenship-through-investment program for ultra-high-net-worth individuals and become a dominant top-tier country in the citizenship-through-investment arena.

Currently Austria, Malta, and Cyprus are the only top-tier countries offering a direct path to citizenship while Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, St. Kitts and Nevis, and Saint Lucia also offer such programs.

In pursuing this new policy initiative, Canada would be in a position to attract the world’s most successful ultra-high-net-worth businesspeople along with their families and, by extension, their business networks. This could prove highly lucrative and provide Canada with a large inflow of cash, which it badly needs.

If executed strategically, Canada would also realize significant gains to its human capital in the immediate term and, through the children of such businesspeople, in the long term. The human capital benefit that the children of successful businesspeople bring to Canada is immeasurable and invaluable.

How beneficial can a new federal residency and citizenship program be? This year, some 5,000 newcomers will be admitted under the Quebec program alone, which has been selecting its own business investor immigrants since 1986. Under a revised federal immigrant investors’ program, Ottawa would likely account for more than 70 per cent of the market, a position it held at the peak of its popularity in 2010. In doing so, British Columbia and Ontario would then benefit from their share of Ottawa’s transfer payments as the two provinces would become the default choice for the overwhelming majority of applicants applying under the Quebec program.

Together with Quebec, Canada could again become a dominant player in the international residency-through-investment industry and perhaps match or surpass the popularity of the EB-5 program in the United States, which admits 10,000 business immigrants annually.

If Canada is to return to the forefront of the business immigration field, it must replicate a modified format of the Quebec program and other successful international programs by installing a well-devised, targeted model that creates a capital fund for Canadian businesses and attracts the right calibre of applicants on the basis of clear policy objectives featuring program integrity, international competitiveness, processing cost efficiency, and fast processing.

The federal Immigrant Investor Venture Capital Pilot Program is dead but the need for high-net-worth business immigrants to Canada is not. The substantial financial benefits to Canada, a welcome advantage in the face of our current economic difficulties, could well be surpassed by the undeniable human capital benefits it would receive from the world’s most innovative and wealthiest businesspeople and their families who would choose to live in Canada.

Additionally, Canada could take the lead on the global stage by creating an international charitable fund for refugees from a portion of the proceeds of investment inflow. In doing so, it would help ensure that the world’s wealthiest are directly assisting the world’s immigrant population who are most affected by international conflicts. This is one of the hallmarks of effective immigration policy.

Source: Feds should reboot cash-for-residence immigration program |