Tories want to cut red tape for skilled immigrants. What else is new? – Macleans.ca

An overview of where the Conservative leadership candidates stand on foreign credential recognition – no much new for a perennial issue.

The evaluation of IRCC’s efforts under the Conservatives, which were largely information, path-finding and referral services, does not indicate a strong correlation with improved outcomes for foreign-trained professions (Evaluation of the Foreign Credentials Referral Office (FCRO)):

A large part of Justin Trudeau’s campaign focused on reforming the Conservatives’ policies, but that’s not the case when it comes to skilled immigrants. Erin Tolley, a political science researcher at the University of Toronto who focuses on diversity in Canada, said the Liberals have been largely silent on the issue. Their platform didn’t include promises on immigrant skill utilization, and all they’ve done is tweak economic immigration policy. Tolley says it’s Conservative governments that are most active on skilled immigration reform because they see it as an economic issue.

That’s why when Conservative leadership hopefuls nearly unanimously said Canada needs more skilled immigrants, I had to know where they stood on reaccreditation. The campaigns of Kellie Leitch, Maxime Bernier, and Lisa Raitt did not make their candidates available for an interview, but nine other candidates agree that the federal government has a role to play in tackling the problem.

Nearly every candidate I spoke with said Canada needs to sharpen its focus on economic immigration. Former immigration minister Chris Alexander wants 70 per cent of Canada’s immigrants to be selected on the basis of skills, education, and language, rather than family reunification. Under the Harper government, that number hovered in the mid-60 percentiles, while the Liberals lowered 2016 targets to the mid-50s. Alexander’s message is clear: whether they come in as a response to our needs or in a steady stream, skilled immigrants help prop up the economy.

…But during the first debate, none of the candidates addressed how we will make sure those skills are part of the job market. Alexander and Steven Blaney said they would build on Jason Kenney’s work as immigration minister if they came to power. That means providing incentives to businesses, including tax breaks and the ability to let them tell the government what kind of skills they’re looking for, and having discussions with professional associations that often help immigrants gain their credentials. The associations could play a role in both educating new immigrants about how to get accredited and loosening standards for newcomers.

….Finances are one of the barriers for new immigrants, according to the U of T study. Others are a lack of job experience, language barriers, and even “lack of knowledge of Canadian professional ‘lingo.’”

To fill many of the gaps, Erin O’Toole said, Canada relies on migrant workers. Part of the reason is immigrants can’t use their degrees. For O’Toole, there are two steps to a solution. The first is to start a process of recognizing credentials sooner, concurrent with the application, and the second is working with provinces to streamline cross-provincial recognition.

The majority of candidates who spoke to Maclean’sechoed O’Toole’s ideas. Michael Chong added that Canada needs to be “giving immigrants a clear-eyed view of what the credentials are worth in Canada so they know what they will need to transition.” Andrew Scheer said, “If the work was done on the front-end and we were able to bring provinces together, in a lot of cases you wouldn’t need to qualify and re-certify.”

It’s possible they are right, but policy takes a long time to implement—and it takes even longer to figure out whether or not it works. Tolley also says there are barriers governments can’t tackle outside of raising awareness. For example, research shows foreign-sounding names are discriminated against by employers, and there is no policy that helps immigrants retroactively.

Source: Tories want to cut red tape for skilled immigrants. What else is new? – Macleans.ca

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About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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