Canada started the year 2015 with the launch of a new immigration system that will ease the entry of young migrants with high professional qualifications, a substitute for the highly criticised immigration system that was in effect throughout 2014.
The “Express Entry” system was established on Jan 1, giving priority to those people who already have job offers in the country.
Express Entry is the direct consequence of the failed Temporary Foreign Worker Program created by the government of Canada’s Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper to satisfy the demands of the Canadian labour market.
According to official figures, while in 2002 ,Canada accepted some 100,000 temporary foreign workers, mostly to work in agriculture or in remote areas, in 2012, the figure tripled to more than 330,000 workers, many for jobs in fast-food chains.
In comparison, Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander announced several weeks ago that Canada will accept between 260,000 and 285,000 immigrants in 2015, some 20,000 more than in 2014.
The Harper government justified the entry of more temporary foreign workers, who cannot apply for permanent residence in Canada and who have fewer rights and benefits than residents in the country, with the fact that Canadians largely refuse to work in fast-food chains.
Tripling temporary foreign workers coincides with the Harper government’s policy to allow companies to pay up to 15 percent less to workers from areas like Latin America and the Philippines.
But Canadian labour unions say that many employers just fire Canadian employees to hire cheaper immigrant labour.
After repeatedly defending that program, the Harper government admitted last year that some employers were abusing it, even in some cases frightening foreign workers with death threats. Under intense pressure, Ottawa decide to suspend part of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.
The launch of Express Entry could silence critics who believe that Harper transformed Canada’s immigration system for no other reason than to satisfy the immediate needs of the most powerful economic sectors of the nation.
The Canadian government said that candidates for Express Entry will be considered for acceptance based on such factors as age, education, professional qualifications, language and experience.
Chris Alexander said recently that beginning Jan 1, the Canadian government will be capable of choosing the immigrants that will contribute most to its economy, labour market and communities.