Key ministers responsible for shaping Canada’s immigration system recently met to align their goals, and discuss how to design an immigration program to meet the country’s future economic needs.
Federal, provincial and territorial (FPT) immigration ministers met in Ottawa, agreeing that economic immigration was a top priority for Canada. All the immigration ministers in attendance are working together to build a new Canadian immigration recruitment model, known as the Expression of Interest (EOI) system. The ministers’ ultimate goal is to ensure the EOI system can respond to Canada’s changing labor market.
The immigration ministers agreed that the EOI system, which is set to launch in January 2015, will complement the existing Provincial Nominee Program—an immigration program that allows each province to nominate individuals to immigrate to Canada if they meet their regional labor needs.
There was also an agreement among the FPT immigration ministers to support a plan that assists new immigrants to settle into Canada. Key elements of assistance to new immigrants will be in the areas of pre-arrival services, language learning for immigrants not in the workforce, and methods for encouraging immigrants to become active in their new communities.
Unlike the English-speaking provinces, Quebec operates its immigration program independently and assumes full responsibility for its immigration levels, as well as for the selection and integration of immigrants to that province. As a result, Quebec was only an observer at the meeting.
The federal government believes that the Provincial Nominee Program has also helped meet its goal of diverting immigration to areas outside of Canada’s largest three cities—Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver.
In 2012, 42 percent of Canada’s economic immigrants settled outside of those three cities, compared to only 20 percent in 2000. That same year, 62 percent of Canada’s immigrants were deemed “economic,” with the government now hoping to reach 70 percent economic immigration in the coming years.
To help ensure new immigrants to Canada integrate successfully in their communities, the federal government will invest $600 million in 2014-2015 to assist with immigrants’ integration to Canada in all provinces except Quebec.