Canada launches new immigration program to address labor shortages in in-demand sectors

Eva Homicio

"We are hiring" banner in Southampton, ON, Canada

"We are hiring" banner in Southampton, ON, Canada ©, Eric Prouzet

Canada has unveiled a new immigration program aimed at filling crucial job vacancies in sectors experiencing labor shortages. The "category-based selection" system, also known as "targeted draws," seeks to align skilled immigrants with the country's pressing labor market demands. 

The program, launched by Immigration Minister Sean Fraser, focuses not only on candidates with strong French language proficiency but also on those with experience in five key occupational sectors.

The targeted draws will prioritize applicants with backgrounds in the following sectors: healthcare, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) professions, trades (such as carpentry, plumbing, and contracting), transportation, and agriculture/agri-food. 

A total of 82 occupations within these sectors have been identified for selection in upcoming draws. This includes occupations like nurse aides, orderlies, installers, repairers, servicers, truck drivers, and agricultural workers.

Fraser emphasized that the changes to the Express Entry system, the entry point for skilled immigration programs, will address chronic labor shortages faced by employers across the country. The modifications will ensure that Canada has a sufficient supply of skilled workers to support economic growth and business success. 

Additionally, the program aims to bolster French-speaking communities by increasing the number of French-proficient candidates. These adjustments make Canada's immigration system more responsive to the country's social and economic needs.

The job categories eligible for selection have been determined through public consultations and an analysis of labor market requirements. The immigration department's website provides a comprehensive list of occupations eligible for the new program. 

Currently, skilled immigration program applicants enter the Express Entry pool, where they are evaluated based on factors such as age, education, language proficiency, work experience, and job offers. Regular draws invite candidates with the highest scores to apply for permanent residence. 

However, the system previously did not allow for the selection of candidates in "in-demand" professions if their scores didn't meet the thresholds of those draws.

Under the new system, candidates for targeted draws must have at least six months of work experience within the last three years in one of the specified occupations. Only top-ranking candidates will be invited to apply for permanent residence. 

The initiative comes as job vacancies in Canada decreased in various sectors, including accommodation and food services, administrative and support services, and trades and sales occupations.

Further details on the timing of invitations for each category and the application process will be announced in the upcoming weeks. As of May 24, over 226,800 candidates were in the Express Entry talent pool, with many having scores below 450 points out of a maximum of 1,200. 

The immigration department will provide more information regarding the number of candidates eligible for the targeted draws expected to take place this summer.

Earlier we reported: Revised Canada work permit rules open doors for spouses and family members, addressing labor shortages

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