Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino announced the new policy on Wednesday, saying it will apply for 50,000 essential workers and 40,000 international graduates already in Canada.
“Canada’s path to prosperity lies through immigration because newcomers … will come and roll up their sleeves and contribute and give back in our health care sector and in many other vital areas of the economy,” he said at a news conference.
Mendicino said health care and other eligible essential workers must have at least one year of Canadian work experience to apply, while international graduates must have completed an eligible Canadian post-secondary program within the last four years.
Applications accepted through three streams
Eligible workers and graduates will be able to apply for permanent status through three streams between May 6, 2021 and Nov. 5, 2021. The department will take up to 20,000 applications for temporary workers in health care, 30,000 applications for temporary workers in the essential job category and 40,000 applications for international students.
All applicants must be proficient in either English or French, and a certain portion of spots will be reserved for French-speaking or bilingual candidates.
The department says the new policy will help the government achieve its goal of welcoming 401,000 new permanent residents to the country.
New pathway not enough, migrant rights group says
A group of advocates for the rights of migrants said the program doesn’t go far enough.
Syed Hussan, executive director of Migrant’s Rights Network, called the new pathway a “time-limited and partial program” that will help only a small number of migrants with temporary status.
“Each year, hundreds of thousands of people come to the country on temporary permits, many of whom cannot get permanent residency. While they are temporary, they are unable to assert basic labour rights, access health care, often get education, get income support — even in the public health pandemic — or be able to reunite with their families,” said Hussan.
“Today’s announcement keeps that entire structure still in place.”
Hussan said many will find the pathway hard to access because of the language requirements. He said the program also excludes about half a million undocumented people who live and work in Canada but don’t have any immigration status.
“Undocumented people live and work in our communities and work in many of the same industries. They must be able to access permanent status,” said Hussan. “Today’s announcement leaves them out.”
Hussan called on Mendicino to immediately provide permanent resident status to the 1.6 million people in Canada currently without it.
Canada faces serious demographic challenges. In 1971, there were 6.6 people of working age for each senior. Today, there are 3—and by 2035 there will be only 2. Without newcomers, future generations will end up paying more to sustain the public services that Canadians rely on.