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17 September 2017

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Canadian employers have been challenged to fill pressing labour shortages for many years and the projections are that these shortages will continue for years to come. Notwithstanding all the various opinions as to the best way to resolve our shortage of workers, immigration is universally recognized as being essential to address Canada’s immediate and long term labour force needs. For employers seeking to resolve their labour shortages, it is becoming essential to navigate Canada's immigration programs in order to keep your workforce strong and your business thriving. Here's what you can do to master the immigration game!

This past weekend Canada’s Minister of Immigration Chris Alexander formally changed what was previously known as the Live-In Caregiver Program to the new Caregiver Program. Speculation had been circulating for years that the program might be drastically changed including eliminating the Permanent Resident component. Fortunately the residency component has been maintained and the program has been modified to eliminate the need for caregivers to reside with their employers and to allow for speedier processing of permanent resident applications.

We are constantly hearing that Canada is facing a shortage of workers and that we need to turn to immigration to satisfy the labour market needs of Canadian employers. Yet, while economists and demographers continue to chronicle Canada's labour shortage and that foreign workers are badly required to sustain our economic growth, the Government of Canada has been making numerous changes throughout this spring and summer that are of key significance to employers. Two controversial cases this past winter concerning Chinese mine workers in Northern British Columbia and the Royal Bank's termination of domestic employees while outsourcing work off shore, garnered considerable media attention. The government reacted by dramatically modifying its foreign worker program and making it tougher for employers to bring in foreign workers to Canada.

Over the past five months, Canada's Minister of Immigration has either created, modified or re-opened 5 separate categories for immigration to Canada in the economic program. This signals a strong message to the world that the doors are open for immigrants to Canada and also demonstrates the Canadian government's recognition of the significance that immigrants play in Canada's overall economic growth.

Canada's skilled worker program for permanent residence was re-opened on May 4, 2013 after several months of being suspended. Immigration Minister Jason Kenney closed the program in June of 2012 to further address a backlog of applications as well as to overhaul the program. The skilled worker category has been the cornerstone of Canada's economic immigration program for decades but in recent years had built up a backlog of nearly one million applications that were often taking in excess of five years to process. The newly re-introduced skilled worker program is designed to allow processing to occur far more quickly. In addition the new program changes shift emphasis from education and foreign work experience to language proficiency and Canadian work experience with the goal of enhancing an immigrant's ability to integrate into the Canadian workplace more quickly.

Minister Kenney announced on December 19, 2012, that he will re-introduce the Federal Skilled Worker Program effective May 4, 2013. Canada’s cornerstone Skilled Worker Program had been suspended since June of 2012, given a huge backlog of cases that had built up over years. The new Skilled Worker Program is designed to allow processing to occur in a far more timely fashion. The program’s changes also shift emphasis from education and foreign work experience to language proficiency and Canadian work experience.

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