Canadian Immigration Minister Joe Volpe said the government was set to unveil sweeping changes to Canada's immigration policy Monday, including plans to take in as many as 300,0000 new immigrants annually within the next five years. Canada is on track to accept 245,000 immigrants this year, the high end of last year's target.
Volpe said Ottawa plans to increase temporary workers to tackle the enormous backlog of 700,000 prospective immigrants. He said would-be newcomers currently face waits of as long as four years to have their applications processed in Canadian missions around the world. "We have to start thinking about the Immigration department as a recruiting vehicle for Canada's demographic and labor market needs," Volpe told The Globe and Mail. "We are producing more jobs than the labor market has workers for ... we're desperate for immigration." Canada - a vast country slightly larger than the United States, though much of it in the frigid north - has only 33 million people, compared with 296 million Americans.
Stephen Heckbert, a spokesman for Volpe, says the multiyear plan which was to be presented to Parliament later Monday, still needs Cabinet approval.
Volpe said he wants to bring in more workers on temporary visas to fill positions in the trades - such as pipefitters and truck drivers. Canada issues about 95,000 such visas a year.
Canada uses a recruitment system to select new immigrants, attracting many highly educated people who complain their professional credentials are not accepted in Canada.
Many foreign doctors and engineers say they end up working as taxi drivers and waiters - a trend confirmed by Statistics Canada, which has found recent immigrants earn less than their Canadian-born counterparts despite higher levels of education. A.M.