In recent comments Immigration Minister John McCallum has expressed his government’s desire to find a middle ground for the admission of foreign workers into Canada.
Originally intended as a way to admit highly skilled workers where there was a shortage of skills in Canada, the foreign worker program became engulfed in scandal during the time of the Harper government, when the number of workers increased dramatically to include even fast-food restaurant cashiers. The former Conservative government’s reaction to the scandal was a severe crack-down on the program that has left it virtually impossible for Canadian employers to obtain foreign workers when they need them.
Minister McCallum is now seeking a solution to the problem. In this regard, a balance is necessary between protecting Canada’s domestic labour force from unfair competition, for which a thorough vetting process is required for foreign workers, and enabling Canadian employers to bring in skilled foreigners when they genuinely can’t find the workers they need domestically, for which a timely and efficient work permit program is required.
The solution that is being considered is to continue the vetting process for most types of work permits but allow for a streamlined process in the case of certain types of highly skilled workers where labour market shortages are constant.
The immigration authorities also want to make it easier for foreigners working in Canada with work permits to transition into permanent residence. Where the previous Harper government envisioned Canada as a sort of “Saudi Arabia north” full of foreign workers who could not become citizens, the Liberals under Justin Trudeau want to see a path to permanent residence and eventually citizenship for all deserving workers and their families.