Some Canadian Employers Anxious As They Await New Immigration Law

Entreprenurial investorsWith less than a month to go before the introduction of Canada’s new immigration program, at least two of the nine national employer organizations who helped the government formulate the new policy are adopting a wait and see attitude about the changes to immigration policy.

On January 1, 2015, the long-anticipated “Express Entry” immigration program will officially become a major part of Canada’s new immigration policy, and will signal a significant change from the direction of past immigration laws. The key element of “Express Entry” will be to try and match most new immigrants to the job openings that are most in need within Canada. Under the new program, only “the highest ranking candidates” will be allowed to apply for permanent residency. The Canadian government is also promising that Express Entry applications will be processed in under six months.

Established in 2013, the nine-member employer group has played a key role in advising the government how best to design the new Express Entry immigration program, with the end goal of ensuring that it meets Canada’s evolving job market. Overall, most employer groups favor the change from Canada’s previous immigration laws, which tended to place greater emphasis on the history and needs of immigrants rather than the economic needs of the Canadian job market.

A representative of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce said her organization supports Express Entry as it will help ensure that most immigrants coming to Canada will be “coming in with a job already in hand.” Susan Anton-Cartwright said the Chamber welcomes the Express Entry program, as it will assist them in finding employees when no Canadians are available to fill positions. Still, she admits that neither the Chamber, nor even the government, can be sure how well the program will work.

The federal government recently revealed additional details about the Express Entry program, including the fact that:

  • Except for people with disabilities, the government is eliminating paper-based immigration applications. The anticipation is that there will be a low demand for paper applications.
  • The move to electronic immigration applications is expected to cost the government about $6.7 million over the next decade.
  • While it isn’t clear how much the government expects to save by switching to paperless applications, it has in the past touted this change as a cost-saving move.

Despite the Chamber’s support, one of Canada’s largest employer groups remains

critical of some elements of the government’s immigration plans. The Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses (CFIB) has criticized the government’s tightening of rules surrounding the hiring of temporary foreign workers. The CFIB represents many smaller businesses, including restaurants, which have historically heavily relied upon temporary foreign workers.

Dan Kelly, the Chief Executive Officer of the CFIB, told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) his organization supports many elements of the new Express Entry law, but that it “will do zero” for employers looking to fill lower skilled and lower paying jobs with foreign workers.

Kelly added that, unlike prior immigration laws, Express Entry “prohibits lower-skilled workers from coming to Canada and taking lower-skilled jobs.”