Canada to cut Federal Skilled Worker Program Numbers
16 November 2012
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Canada's immigration minister Jason Kenney announced further changes to Canadian immigration policy on 2nd November 2012. Mr Kenney said that the Canadian immigration system would be transformed by the end of 2013.
His headline announcement was that, by the end of 2013, the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) backlog would be eliminated well ahead of schedule. Mr Kenney had previously announced that the backlog would be cleared by the end of 2017.
Thereafter, Federal Skilled Worker Program applications will be considered as they are received and should be processed in under a year. 55,300 people will be admitted under the FSWP in 2013, a slight reduction on the 2012 figure. At the same time, the Canadian Experience Class will be expanded to include 10,000 people, compared to only 6,000 in 2012. The overall immigration figure will remain unchanged at around 260,000.
The Canadian Experience Class allows skilled workers from overseas who have been working in Canada in a skilled occupation to apply for permanent resident status.
Mr Kenney says that the changes he had announced would help Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), his governmental department, to eliminate the backlog in the Federal Skilled Worker Class completely by the end of 2014 and allow the introduction of an 'Expression of Interest' system similar to that which is operated by the Australian immigration authorities. It is expected to be known as the Federal Skilled Worker Pool. Mr Kenney said 'the government's number one priority remains the economy and job growth. Immigration backlogs are detrimental to our ability to attract the world's top talent.
The Expression of Interest system would allow those considering emigrating to Canada to register their interest at a central database, the Federal Skilled Worker Pool. Details of their skills, qualifications and so forth would be held on the database. The database would be accessible by Canadian regional governments and by businesses who could then cherry pick the applicants whose skills best matched their requirements. Those people who were selected would then be invited to apply for a Canadian visa.
Mr Kenney said last year 'Employers are best positioned to decide who can best fill the open jobs rather than a passive and bureaucratic system. 'it's not about privatising the immigration system. It's more about a more active role of recruitment for people so they have jobs when they show up.'
The Canadian government has struggled with the Federal Skilled Worker Program backlog for many years. In June 2012, Mr Kenney took the dramatic decision to annul all applications made before 2008 and to refund application fees to all applicants. 280,000 people were affected. This was a controversial move. Some applicants had been waiting for seven years for their cases to be considered.
Many of the pre-2008 applicants have refused to accept Mr Kenney's decision to annul their claims. They are hoping to bring a class action against the Canadian government in order to have their claims reinstated. A preliminary hearing in their case will be heard in the Canadian courts later in November. Solicitors for the applicants will ask the Canadian courts for permission to bring the action against the government.
A lawyer representing the applicants, Lorne Waldman, told Postmedia News last year that Mr Kenney's decision had been unconstitutional and should be reversed, 'These applicants applied in good faith, some as long as seven years ago. They paid their fees and were told that their applications would be processed. We are arguing that it (the decision) is inconsistent with our charter and our Bill of Rights,' he said.
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