Skilled immigration talks move forward in Canada

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On 15 August 2008, Canadian Immigration Minister Diane Finley met with key stakeholders from business, industry, labor and non-governmental organizations to discuss which occupations can benefit from skilled immigration. The consultations come as a result of recent legislation that gives Canadian immigration authorities the power to fast-track immigration applications for people who have the skills Canada needs most.

The consultations focused on identifying "critical occupational shortages" in trades and professions across the nation and the role that immigration would play in helping to reduce these shortages. The talks also focused on the difficulties in having foreign credentials recognized in Canada.

The information gathered at the talks will used in developing guidelines for immigration officers on which occupations will be identified for priority processing. The instructions, to be issued in Autumn of this year, will focus on applications in the federal skilled worker category.

"There are shortages of workers in many professions and trades. These broad consultations with stakeholders have provided us with a picture of the most common and acute pressures across the country, and how immigration can play a role in addressing them," Finley said in a release.

"Our government is committed to helping newcomers and their families succeed when they come to Canada. Their success is our success," she added.

Following the discussions, Finley emphasized the importance of provincial and territorial initiatives to better recognize qualifications and credentials earned overseas -- an issue that has proven difficult for some newcomers.

"We can't prioritize occupations and professions in demand if there isn't the necessary support and training available to help newcomers begin work in their chosen fields," she said.

Finley stated that the instructions will not affect Canada's refugee and family reunification immigration programs.