Under the so-called Provincial Nominee Programme, candidates who are offered jobs or nominated for them will be processed at a much faster rate than others by immigration officials. Assuming that the application for work and entry to Canada is accepted, they will then be invited to apply for permanent residency. The authorities hope that the new nationwide system will lessen the need for temporary foreign workers in the country. Indeed, many see it as a beneficial way of addressing the country’s often talked-about skills shortage. Chris Alexander, Canada’s Immigration Minister, has been widely reported as referring to the express entry system as a ‘top priority’ for his department. “Express entry promises to be a something of game changer for this country’s immigration system and for the economy of Canada,” he said as recently as September. “Furthermore, it will revolutionise the means by which we attract skilled and professional migrants and get them here to begin working faster.”
However, a newly released government study into the express processing system – which is only months away from starting – suggests that potential newcomers to Canada have misgivings about it. Some have questioned the government’s intention to ensure that would-be immigrants really have the right skills that are in demand. Many respondents to the survey wondered why the authorities are not doing more to help place qualified immigrants already in the country into jobs. Indeed, according to the report, some newly-arrived residents in Canada, “have been left feeling frustrated by the lack of recognition of their professional credentials among potential employers.” The study also pointed out some new migrants’ subsequent difficulties with acquiring a sufficient amount of experience working in their indsurty country, lead to further problems landing any kind of job.
The study, which was put together by Ipsos Reid and commissioned by the Citizenship and Immigration Department earlier in 2014, suggested that newcomers right across the country were not positive about the express entry system that is due to be introduced. The survey, which was drawn from no less than 14 focus groups in seven community locations in the country, reported that a significant number of participants in all of the sessions questioned why the government was interested in those who have yet to arrive, “instead of those who have already immigrated.”
According to the report’s authors, those questioned were quick to caution that the system opened up “the potential for fraudulent behaviour.” The respondents were drawn from a pool of differing ages and from a variety of socio-economic backgrounds. Many of them were keen to question the integrity of the new entry process, whether on the part of migrant or the prospective employer. “Participants expect that certain steps ought to be put in place to guard against fraud,” the study stated.
According to the Canadian media, the minister concerned has been meeting many of the stakeholders concerned, including business leaders, in an effort to make sure that the express entry system – when it goes live – does so effectively. Despite this, Mr Alexander has yet to comment about the findings of the Ipsos Reid study and the specific concerns raised. As of early October, his ministry has also failed to respond to requests from the Canadian press for a comment.
The Canadian immigration authorities began accepting applications under the skilled worker programme this year – ahead of the launch of the new express system. At least 25,000 migrants are known to have registered under that federal scheme, but it is not yet clear whether some of these individuals will be able to transfer to the new one when it commences after the New Year. At the moment, the Canadian government is known to be keen to attract skilled immigrants in about 50 different occupations which it has identified shortages with. These professions include financial managers, accountants, civil engineers, auditors and psychologists.
However, in yet another government study conducted earlier this year, it was found that even highly skilled newcomers in Canada face “huge obstacles” which often prevent them from landing jobs – even when their professional credentials are up-to-date. This, the Environics Research report said, included pharmacists, engineers and even doctors, with language problems appearing to be the chief barrier to work.