Canada's immigration minister Jason Kenney announced further changes to Canadian immigration policy on 2nd November 2012. Mr Kenney said that the Canadian immigration system would be transformed by the end of 2013.
His headline announcement was
that, by the end of 2013, the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) backlog
would be eliminated well ahead of schedule. Mr Kenney had previously announced
that the backlog would be cleared by the end of 2017.
Federal Skilled Worker Program applications will be considered as they are
received and should be processed in under a year. 55,300 people will be admitted
under the FSWP in 2013, a slight reduction on the 2012 figure. At the same time,
the Canadian Experience Class will be expanded to include 10,000 people,
compared to only 6,000 in 2012. The overall immigration figure will remain
unchanged at around 260,000.
The Canadian Experience Class allows
skilled workers from overseas who have been working in Canada in a skilled
occupation to apply for permanent resident status.
Mr Kenney says
that the changes he had announced would help Citizenship and Immigration Canada
(CIC), his governmental department, to eliminate the backlog in the Federal
Skilled Worker Class completely by the end of 2014 and allow the introduction of
an 'Expression of Interest' system similar to that which is operated by the
Australian immigration authorities. It is expected to be known as the Federal
Skilled Worker Pool. Mr Kenney said 'the government's number one priority
remains the economy and job growth. Immigration backlogs are detrimental to our
ability to attract the world's top talent.
The Expression of Interest
system would allow those considering emigrating to Canada to register their
interest at a central database, the Federal Skilled Worker Pool. Details of
their skills, qualifications and so forth would be held on the database. The
database would be accessible by Canadian regional governments and by businesses
who could then cherry pick the applicants whose skills best matched their
requirements. Those people who were selected would then be invited to apply for
a Canadian visa.
Mr Kenney said last year 'Employers are best
positioned to decide who can best fill the open jobs rather than a passive and
bureaucratic system. 'it's not about privatising the immigration system. It's
more about a more active role of recruitment for people so they have jobs when
they show up.'
The Canadian government has struggled with the Federal Skilled
Worker Program backlog for many years. In June 2012, Mr Kenney took the dramatic
decision to annul all applications made before 2008 and to refund application
fees to all applicants. 280,000 people were affected. This was a controversial
move. Some applicants had been waiting for seven years for their cases to be
Many of the pre-2008 applicants have refused to accept Mr
Kenney's decision to annul their claims. They are hoping to bring a class action
against the Canadian government in order to have their claims reinstated. A
preliminary hearing in their case will be heard in the Canadian courts later in
November. Solicitors for the applicants will ask the Canadian courts for
permission to bring the action against the government.
representing the applicants, Lorne Waldman, told Postmedia News last year that
Mr Kenney's decision had been unconstitutional and should be reversed, 'These
applicants applied in good faith, some as long as seven years ago. They paid
their fees and were told that their applications would be processed. We are
arguing that it (the decision) is inconsistent with our charter and our Bill of
Rights,' he said.
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