OTTAWA — Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney says changes are coming to Canada's immigration system to make it more flexible in an effort to combat labour shortages.
Kenney told CTV's Question Period that the government is planning to change the points system for selecting immigrants to recognize the skilled trades.
This policy change would alter the focus of the traditional immigration preference for university-educated migrants including engineers and doctors.
“People who are skilled tradespeople have an almost impossible job of coming to Canada under our current system because the skilled worker program basically selects people with advanced university degrees,” Kenney told CTV.
He said by opening up the border to more trade-oriented workers, the federal government will be able to attract “hidden jewels” that will help fill labour shortages in specific areas.
NDP MP Olivia Chow said the federal government would serve Canadians better by training people out of work at home, before looking abroad to fill labour needs.
“We have 1.4 million Canadians looking for work and the apprenticeship programs and school training programs can certainly be ramped up,” Chow said. “Those (companies) that train workers — and train unemployed workers especially — should be rewarded with a tax break.”
She said Canada has relied on immigration too often to fill needs in the labour market, where there are plenty of options at home.
Chow said only bringing in workers would make it difficult for those who gain residency or citizenship to bring their families to Canada.
Kenney said there were plans to make it easier to deport people from the country found to be inadmissible by immigration officials.
“We'll be coming forward with legislation on that in this term of Parliament to streamline the number of almost endless appeals that exist,” he said.
“When these people hire clever lawyers, they're able to go back with endless appeals,” Kenney said. “We need to say, ‘You get your day in court in Canada, but not 20 years in court.' ”
Chow said there is no need to change the rules surrounding deportation to remove people from Canada. Instead, she said, the Canada Border Services Agency should keep better track of individuals set for deportation.
A scathing auditor general's report released in November said the CBSA was lacking guidance, training and information to properly determine who should and shouldn't be let into Canada.
In an effort to track down people set for deportation, the CBSA rolled out a most wanted list to enlist the public's help in tracking down people convicted of serious crimes and suspected war criminals that have slipped past the CBSA.
Kenney used as example the case of Leon Mugesera, a suspect wanted in his native Rwanda and accused of inciting the 1994 genocide — where close to one million minority Tutsis and moderate Hutus were slaughtered. Mugesera was shipped back to his homeland this month after at 15 year legal battle over his deportation — an example that Chow said was extreme.
The minister also said there were no plans to expand the recent changes to government regulations making it mandatory for immigrants taking the oath of citizenship to reveal their faces, even if they wear traditional coverings like the niqab or burka.
He said it was already standard procedure for face coverings to be removed in interviews with visa officers.
“The general principle should be that when citizens are interacting with the government, with the state, they should be showing us who they are, uncovering their faces, and I think we're taking a reasonable approach to that,” he said.
Read more: http://www.canada.com/news/Changes+immigration+system+will+help+Canada+bring+tradespeople+Kenney/6069616/story.html#ixzz1lFwKJE9q