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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Fraser Institute report - Immigrant selection process should make better use of private-sector employment needs

The Fraser Institute, an independent, non-partisan Canadian public policy think-tank, released a report today, Canada’s Immigrant Selection Policies: Recent Record, Marginal Changes, and Needed Reforms, advocating that Canada's Immigrant selection process "should make better use of private-sector employment needs to ensure new immigrants can succeed economically."

While I believe this is an admirable position to take on behalf of Skilled Worker immigrants (who make up over 60% of all immigrants to Canada on a yearly basis), I also maintain the position that it is incredibly short-sighted.

The Institute notes that current Skilled Worker class immigrants have been largely unsuccessful, and their burden on Canada's various support system equals a heady $20 billion per year. "To fully eliminate the current fiscal burden, Grubel (the report's author) recommends abandoning the points system and replacing it with pre-arranged contracts for work in Canada as main selection criterion for economic immigrants."

Maybe in days gone by - days of big manufacturing - an immigration policy that was tuned in fully to the market needs of employers might have made sense. But modern employers currently seek highly specialized workers for specific economic opportunities. When those opportunities are gone, so is the job - there is no long term loyalty given, or frankly, expected. The no-longer-critical employee is released, and Canada is left with an immigrant with a very specific skill set who can't get another job in their area of expertise.

I believe Canada's immigration policy in the area of Skilled Workers should reward and fast track applicants with arranged employment. That makes a lot of sense. But it needs to be balanced with applicants who bring a range of expertise and adaptability as well.

I know in my own situation that the opportunities here are much different than the ones I had in the US - even putting the barriers to employment in Canada aside. But I have been able to carve out a living - because I adapted. Canada cannot afford to undervalue the worth of immigrants who are eager to build a life in this country, and able to adapt to its economic realities. These are the ones that start new businesses, innovate - because they have to.

Read the Fraser Institute news release and get the full report here

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