If the Canadian Experience Class were a baby, the doctors might be getting worried by now about its troubling lack of development.

A little more than two years ago, our federal government announced the creation of the CEC, which was heralded as “a new avenue to immigration that will, under certain conditions, permit foreign students with Canadian credentials and work experience, as well as skilled temporary foreign workers who are already in Canada, to apply for permanent residence.”

This was great news since the primary way Canada was importing its skilled workers was through its Federal Skilled Workers Program which selected applicants overseas based on a points system. Applicants had to score a certain number of points in order to qualify based on their education, language skills, work experience, family relationships in Canada and other areas. The assumption was that a high score was a good predictor of the applicant’s chances for successful establishment in Canada.

Of course, this system was, and still is, quite speculative since we all know that some of these people ended up unemployed or underemployed for some time here when faced by employers who insisted on Canadian experience and credentials only.

The CEC was to avoid this problem by allowing those who earned a Canadian degree or diploma and/or gained one to two years of Canadian experience to qualify for permanent residence. Ottawa figured that these candidates are already settled and adjusted here and obviously have what it takes to get and maintain skilled employment in Canada. There would be no need for speculation anymore since we would be granting permanent residence to those who are already here, working and paying taxes.

The Tories initially promised to deliver 25,000 permanent residents per year in this category. However, when the program was officially included in Canada’s Immigration Plan for 2008, our immigration department only promised to deliver less than half of that number i.e. just 10,000-12,000 individuals in 2008.

In fact, not a single person was granted permanent residence in this category in 2008. Not one!

In the next year, the Conservatives promised even fewer CEC immigrants. Instead of the 25,000 annual immigrants initially promised, only 5,000-7,500 were now being promised for 2009.

Well, the 2009 numbers are in and they look rather scary. Only 1,774 principal applicants were landed in 2009, with 770 dependents in tow, bringing the grand total to only 2,544 immigrants.

CIC spokesman Douglas Kellam confirmed that since the Canadian Experience Class was launched in September 2008, approximately 6,000 recent graduates and temporary foreign workers have applied under this class. Kellam acknowledged that volumes in this category “are below expectations.” As a result, CIC is planning to land only 3,000-5,000 immigrants in this category in 2010, a further drop to the numbers anticipated in the previous year.

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney needs to address some questions. Why did CIC plan to land 15,000-19,500 immigrants in this category over the past two years but only delivered about 2,500? If 6,000 individuals have applied since September 2008, as Kellam states, why has CIC only processed less than half of that number by now?

This program is an excellent one, and it appears to be very popular with those I meet who are interested in immigrating here. This program should be properly resourced since it will invariably yield immigrants who are better-suited to our workforce than those who may have never even visited Canada.

Someone needs to explain what is going on here.

– Guidy Mamann practices law in Toronto at Mamann, Sandaluk and is certified by the Law Society of Upper Canada as an immigration specialist. For more information, visit www.migrationlaw.com or email metro@migrationlaw.com

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