Last week, Minister Diane Finley tabled her annual report with Parliament, announcing Canada will be accepting between 240,000 and 265,000 new immigrants in 2008.
Although Finley acknowledged our aging and shrinking population in her report, she will not be bringing in any more immigrants than we have in the past.
Her target is pretty much the same number we let in last year (251,000), and is not too far off our 10-year average of 225,000 new immigrants.
However, what makes this year’s numbers interesting is the distribution of those immigrant visas, the way immigrants will be chosen, and by whom.
Clearly, the big winners will be those who apply under one of our Provincial Nominee Programs. These applicants are not chosen by the federal government, but by a particular province based on its own selection criteria. In 2008, their numbers will rise dramatically from 13,336 to as high as 22,000. This suggests the feds are clearly becoming more comfortable with the provinces choosing our future citizens. Winners will also include up to 2,000 more nannies and up to 7,000 more sponsored spouses and common law partners, etc.
At whose expense will these visas be issued?
Losers will include parents and grandparents of Canadians who will lose up to 2,000 visas. Refugees who are landed from within Canada may drop from 15,892 to 9,400. Those accepted on humanitarian grounds will also feel the hurt when their numbers drop from 10,223 to as little as 6,900.
Surprisingly, the absolute biggest losers will be professionals who apply under our Federal Skilled Workers Class. They could see their numbers drop from 106,000 to as few as 67,000. This hammering of 39,000 skilled workers is contemplated at the same time the minister declared “immigration will be a key source of labour growth in the future.”
The department will partially offset this drop through the creation of a Canadian Experience Class, which will allow up to 12,000 individuals with Canadian skilled work experience, or with a combination of Canadian work and studies, to apply for permanent residence from within Canada. No additional details are available.
This shift from our points-based system, which attempts to predict the employability of an intending immigrant, to a system that relies on actual Canadian employability may be the wave of the future. If so, that would suggest we will be increasingly turning toward our foreign students and foreign workers already here as our pool of future immigrants.
If this is what’s planned, this would be a good thing. Let’s wait and see.