Canada looking for more skilled immigrants

14:23, July 20, 2011      

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Canada will take in about 40,000 skilled immigrants under its provincial nominee program in 2011 to address the country's labor market needs, the Immigration Ministry said on Tuesday.

With Canada accepting 281,000 immigrants last year, the highest figure in 60 years, the provincial nominee program is just one way that prospective immigrants can come to the country. If an applicant has the skills, education and work experience to make an immediate economic impact, a province or territory can sponsor them through an agreement in place with the federal government which controls immigration.

Quebec and the northern territory of Nunavat are the only two places that don't offer the program.

Last year, Canada accepted 38,428 provincial/territory nominees, including more than 8,600 temporary foreign workers who later became permanent residents.

If accepted, the nominee is expected to live in the province or territory which sponsors them, but too often, about 70 percent of the newcomers go to Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver, the country's three biggest cities.

Speaking at a Vancouver Board of Trade luncheon, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney pointed out the top three provincial nominees were Manitoba, Alberta and Saskatchewan, the booming prairie provinces with a combined population of about 6 million people last year, according to Statistics Canada.

"Some of the provincial nominees going to certain provinces like Atlantic Canada may actually end up settling in B.C. or Toronto. That concerns us. They're coming here with the implicit agreement to go and live in the province that's nominated them," Kenney said.

The minister added that ultimately under the Canadian Charter of Rights, people have mobility rights and the government couldn't "make them a prisoner in a particular province."

"If they are going to make a commitment as a provincial nominee to go to a particular province maybe they shouldn't be admitted permanently until they've actually lived there for a certain time," he argued.

Today, about 70 percent of Canada's 34.1 million population is of working age. That figure will drop to 60 percent in 25 years, meaning 60 percent of the population will have to work to provide the social services for the other 40 percent, an increasing percentage being senior citizens.

While Canada currently accepts about 250,000 immigrants annually on average, several studies by think-tanks have suggested the country need to quadruple immigration to more than 1 million annually to maintain the age ratio in the population.

Kenney said realistically that wasn't going to happen as the country didn't have the resources to integrate 1 million newcomers each year, and the government wanted to fully integrate those that it did accept into Canadian society.

"Recent polls show that nearly 80 percent of Canadians are opposed to significantly higher levels of immigration," Kenney said. "Even if we don't increase the numbers of immigrants we admit, we still have to talk about the type of immigrants we welcome."

Among the type of immigrants who are welcome and in demand are skilled trades people. Canada has a shortage of carpenters, millwrights and electricians, among others, and to address that the provincial nominee program has been expanded to allow trades people to immigrate in ways that other Canadian immigration programs have not.

"We do need people who are skilled at working with their hands and not just people who bring capital, we need the right mix," Kenney said.

Source: Xinhua
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