Canadian Immigration News

Why Canada Needs More Low-Skilled Workers to Immigrate

3.5 minute read
"According to a policy brief published by the Canada Excellence Research Chair (CERC), Canada needs to do more to retain its low-skilled temporary foreign workers."
Written by My Visa Source Team
Published on:  Jul 24, 2021
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According to a policy brief published by the Canada Excellence Research Chair (CERC), Canada needs to do more to retain its low-skilled temporary foreign workers. 

The CERC program supports many Canadian universities by awarding $10 million to world-renowned researchers for their research projects. It was the first CERC awarded to Migration and Integration at Ryerson University. 

Every year, Canada welcomes around 350,000 new immigrants. This was post-pandemic and even then 2/3rds of total immigrants invited were living as temporary residents beforehand. Currently, Canada has set its immigration levels to target to welcome around 401,000 new immigrants every year over 2021-23. 

Why Does Canada Need Low-Skilled Workers?

An estimated 600,000 temporary residents come to Canada annually, most of whom transition to permanent residency. It has been observed that a majority of temporary residents who transition to permanent residency are employed in highly skilled occupations. This is mostly because temporary residents employed in low-skilled occupations have fewer opportunities to apply for permanent residency. 

However, the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of low-skilled workers to ensure the stability of the economy. These workers are employed as grocery store clerks, hospital cleaners, farmworkers, etc. During the pandemic, many temporary foreign workers were employed in frontline jobs and contributed significantly to Canada’s response to the pandemic. 

Resultantly, it is expected that the demand for low-skilled workers will increase gradually over the next decade. Many sectors like childcare, family services, commercial transportation, food service industry and construction will require semi and low-skilled foreign workers to meet the demand of their labor markets. 

Canada has an aging population and the demand for healthcare and social services is expected to increase as boomers reach their retirement age. 

It has also been the case that many highly skilled foreign workers end up in low-skilled jobs due to Canadian-born worker’s reluctance to fill these positions. Due to the unavailability of Canadian workers, employers have to shift their focus to hiring foreign workers.

What Canadian Immigration Programs Are Currently Available to Foreign Low-Skilled Workers?

Each province and territory has their own version of the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) that offer different immigration streams that allow intermediate and low-skilled workers to immigrate to Canada. *With the exception of Nunavut and Quebec Immigration.

The British Columbia Provincial Nominee Program (BC PNP) offers the Entry Level and Semi-Skilled Worker stream to nominate low-skilled workers with skills and experience relevant to the needs of the local labor market.

Similarly, the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP) offers the Occupations In-Demand subcategory to nominate low-skilled workers in high-in demand occupations.

Another option for low-skilled workers is the Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program (AIPP). The AIPP encourages economic immigration of foreign workers and international graduates to the Atlantic provinces of Canada- New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island.

In addition, there is the Agri-Food Immigration Pilot, an industry-specific pilot that encourages the immigration of full-time, nonseasonal semi-skilled or low-skilled workers who will significantly benefit agricultural and food-related industries.

Why Are New Immigration Pathways Required for Low-Skilled Workers?

The above-mentioned programs are low-scaled, meaning that they invite only a limited number of low-skilled workers annually based primarily on the needs of their local labor markets. This is the reason that the policy brief published by the CERC calls for a two-step immigration pathway for low-skilled workers. The two-step immigration pathway refers to streams that allow temporary residents to transition to permanent residency in Canada.

Recently, Canada launched 6 new immigration pathways for temporary foreign workers in healthcare and non-healthcare essential occupations and international graduates:

According to the policy brief, this was a step in the right direction as it provided a much-needed pathway for frontline workers to transition to permanent residency. 

It is recommended that Canada introduces more similar pathways for temporary foreign workers in the future. It has been suggested that Canada allocates 10% to 20% of economic class immigration to low-skilled workers. In addition to that, Canada must invest in providing settlement services and introducing new policy decisions to help foreign workers from unfair wages.

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