Canada’s immigration ministers meet to discuss economic migration, reduction of barriers for newcomers
Immigration ministers from the Canadian federal and provincial governments recently met to work together to provide help for newcomers to Canada and maximize the benefits of immigration. At the meeting in Toronto, several key areas concerning immigration, including an emphasis on economic migration, a greater share of Provincial Nomination Programs in immigration planning, and reducing barriers for foreign credential recognition, were discussed by the Forum of Ministers Responsible for Immigration (FMRI). Here are five key decisions taken at the meeting that would benefit immigration.
Consider the capacities of provinces and territories when inviting immigrants
Canada’s capacity to welcome, integrate and train newcomers varies across provinces and territories, which makes it important to evaluate and monitor facilities such as housing, social services and infrastructure in a particular region before immigrants are invited to settle there, and address pressures being faced on these services.
In this context, ministers discussed the importance of attracting and retaining immigrants outside of the larger urban centres, with the ability to assist newcomers requiring close collaboration between government organizations and immigration partners.
“We will continue to work across all levels of government to ensure that housing, infrastructure planning and sustainable population growth are taken into account so that newcomers are set up for success,” said Marc Miller, Minister for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship.
Another key aspect was the emphasis on continuing to invite French-speaking immigrants to settle in Canada.
Make it easier for immigrants to find work
Reducing barriers preventing immigrants from finding work, and streamlining the foreign credential recognition (FCR) process were key points discussed at the meeting, especially in context of regulated occupations such as skilled trades and health care. An important matter was strengthening the connection between the selection of new immigrants, and the licenses they held so that it would be easier for them to work after arriving. Ideas on the table included the selection of candidates who are practice-ready, a clear pathway to becoming licensed, and/or increased awareness of licensing requirements so that newcomers can begin their FCR process before coming to Canada.
“Provinces and territories play a key role in ensuring that immigration is responsive to employers’ labour needs and benefits all regions of the country,” added Jeremy Harrison, Minister of Immigration and Career Training. “Several provinces and territories are also improving foreign qualification recognition to ensure newcomers can work in occupations aligned with their skills and experience.
More successful settlement services for newcomers
Another important point of discussion was how settlement services could better support successful newcomer outcomes and retention at their chosen destination of landing.
Key to addressing this issue would be providing help for newcomers to Canada through innovative and client-centred approaches to settlement services that would improve labour market outcomes and support the integration of newcomers into Canada, while also exploring the possibility of expanding eligibility for services to asylum seekers and temporary arrivals who are on a path to permanent residence.
Make Canada better for international students
With Canada facing an unprecedented growth in student populations, issues were raised around student vulnerability, program integrity, housing, and the role that centres of learning play in supporting students. Also raised during the meeting was the importance of aligning work permit programs with the labour market needs of provinces and territories, as well as potential changes to eligibility requirements to both target and retain students.
A crisis framework to help resettle and assist refugees
With Canada currently committed to resettling refugees from Afghanistan and Ukraine, as well as other countries, a key bone of contention was the help for newcomers to Canada by providing more pathways to permanent residency.
A crisis response framework, said ministers, would go a long way in helping foreign nationals in need of protection, with strategies such as improved data collection, early engagement, communication regarding changes to programs, and collaboration to support vulnerable arrivals all key to assisting those who seek a safe haven in Canada.
In this context, Canada will open a new reception centre for asylum seekers in the Region of Peel, after providing $7 million in funding to provide more streamlined services and support. The centre will function as both a reception centre and temporary shelter and will be operated in collaboration with community organizations that have the experience, skills, and capacity needed to serve vulnerable populations.
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