Plenary II Canada & The World - Targets/Policy Directives - Are we Internationally Competitive?
Howard Duncan Executive Head (Ottawa)
Very interesting discussion by Mr. Duncan, who finds that overall competition for skilled workers/immigrants is not necessarily between us and Europe - but sees China, India and Brazil as emerging competitors (ie as the economies of those countries continue to grow, potential immigrants will choose to remain, rather than leave for 'greener pastures' of Canada).
Duncan refers to a term - Transnationalism - defined as a state where people whose bodies are in one country, but minds, souls, bank accounts are in another country:
While these individuals reside in Canada, they are constantly in touch with their country of origin - sometimes through the use of satellite tv and news and daily newspapers (sometimes even printed in Canada).
Transnationalism is yielding very strong enclaves that are strong financially - don't have to think of them as enclaves of poverty - they are middle class and institutionally complete and lower cost location for integration - settle into immediately - immigrants are now settling directly into suburbs rather than passing through inner city - should view transnational enclaves as competitor to integration - competitor to mainstream.
Duncan stresses consideration of integration - not just the removal of barriers like language and discrimination but think about incentives mainstream can offer to capture hearts and minds of newcomers because lower costs with enclaves:
In order for Canada to develop contemporary policy - but also to lawyers to adjust business practices - need to think incentive structures that accompany globalization
Moderator Baerbel Langner:
Howard's discussion ties in with presentation by Demetrios Papademetriou - first order principles for immigrants --> opportunity ...
Second order principles - tolerant safe society, path to permanent residency and citizenship and recognition of credentials
Howard made the point of removing requirement of language testing - however that is at odds with recent proposal of requiring language testing even from english speaking countries like the US and UK
[this new requirement of official language testing, even from applicants from english speaking countries is of some significance and was widely discussed in the CBA Immigration Law List Serv. Obviously there must be a balance of CIC's need to determine the objective ability for an applicant to meet the requirements of the skilled worker immigrant class - and additional onerous requirements imposed of immigrants to Canada, who have other choices for their relocation]
Moderator: Any thoughts?
Howard: interesting - on language - absolutely no question that strong facility in host country language to financial success - not necessary to social success because of enclave - if willing to spend entire time in enclave - you can have a job, career without language - but if we are after nation building, we can't think about contributing to enclave economy - language testing is best for them and employers
Study comparing Canada and Australia - employer preferences when selecting temporary workers employers prefer who have strong host country language skills - administration is important - and important to Canada
Les Linklater - Director General Immigration (Ottawa) CIC:
Challenges and opportunities for highly talented individuals who have mobility that previous [immigrant] cohorts did not - how reconcile new drivers with traditional objectives of Canada immigration policy - including economic development
For highly skilled with few connections to Canada - large component of immigration is family - why do they come - because family or friend network here - added dynamic to policy development
Australia, US, UK competitors - but real concern about China and India - development of middle class - people coming from those countries have options - if they have opportunities at home, they will stay - quality of life with friends, family in language of choice need to be kept in mind
Recent development is acute shortage throughout - even in Gulf there is dearth of construction workers - even with their boom difficult to find
This government's focus is on economic aspect - family class and refugee do go into the labour market - however skilled workers are not doing as well previous cohorts - skilled workers catching up to native Canadians within 3 years [I'm not sure as to the accuracy of this last comment, on my side or the speakers]
Federal departments have been caught off guard to the degree temporary foreign worker program has been utilized
30% growth in work permit side - HRSDC has seen even greater growth from LMO side - new paradigm with temporary movement - government would like to capitalize - creation of CEC [Canadian Experience Class] - working to implement that - hope to be able to move very quickly to put this program in place - driving force behind CEC - international students with Canadian credential min 2 year, once they have accumulated work experience will be able to apply - temporary foreign workers at NOC a, b or o with experience will be able to apply - we've taken a page from Australians - used to have a program to flip international students to permanent residents but found that the students did not have soft skills necessary to succeed in job market
[Addresses the language testing requirements]:
We need benchmarks - objective - get away from 2 or 3 ftes [Full time employees] in Buffalo to assess written submissions - from operational perspective, this (language testing) will allow us to do more
PNP - we have gone from 196 arrivals in 1996 to 20000 in 2008. Provinces are stepping up and retaining people - great demonstration to work cooperatively and provinces to exercise jurisdiction successfully
Althea Williams, Director Temporary Foreign Workers Program Policy (Gatineau) HRSDC:
V robust economy - declining labour force growth - reduced population growth - underutilization of certain labour groups such as disabled, refugees etc
TFW program quite responsive to labour market needs - it is a short term measure for employers - get labour while they continue to look for Canadian workers for their long term needs - employers need to be cognizant that they are now looking to TFW even for long term
HRSDC is to assess impact of entry of TFW on labour market - work together because program intertwined - HRSDC and CIC - like eLMO pilot
Stakeholders - balancing needs and demands - eg. Employers are needing and wanting that there would be no LMO if they can get a worker, why get a LMO? Why not just get the worker - also want it done faster - why take 6 months to get LMO? also call for consistent processes nationally -also want competitive wages -that's not our role that employers are competitive - our role is to ensure TFW are paid the same as native Canadians - other side we have labour groups who want to ensure strong measures that wages are not lowered and that working conditions are adhered to - and workers and advocates who want more protection and want open work permits - they dont want workers to be tied to an employer because that creates a relationship open to abuse
Budget 2007 provided with funding 50 million over 2 years to reduce processing delays and respond to labour needs and program integrity measures - these are in various stages of development
hrsdc and cic have improved - James Sutherland addressed them:
elmo pilot project - new way to process lmos - to speed process while incorporating some integrity functions - regional list of occupations which clarify minimum advertising requirements in a region - better information for employers - to ensure they know their responsibilities and also information to advise them to complete the application properly - information for workers so they know their rights and know employers obligations - eg overtime, no need to give passport
In terms of future directions - working closely to intro policy to facilitate entry - strengthen integrity and improve worker protection
Facilitate- learning from elmo - put measures from that pilot - preestablish employer eligibility - reduce paperwork upfront - work with employers methodology - employer advisory committee - for them to give us information in a standard manner to establish wage - program integrity - clarify recruitment methods - advertisement - update nationally consistent processing - monitoring compliance to help protect workers - and continued information sharing with provinces and territories - also address labour brokers who are a huge problem for everyone - we hope to have a package of ideas to mitigate those problems
Foreign governments are hoping to work with CIC/Service Canada and would like to send their nationals as TFW - how do we link with employers - that's a policy area that we are working towards
[These are of course very interesting developments and offer CLE participants a 'big picture' overview of the efforts of CIC/Service Canada and future trends. As to whether Canada is internationally competitive there was little discussion as to how our immigration programs stack up against our traditional competitors for skilled workers and immigrants such as the US or Australia. Also missing would be discussion of adoption of best practices from our competitors. My opinion is that official language testing even of native English speakers is not internationally competitive. As an example, if an Indian national, currently residing in the US as a H1B applies as a skilled worker to Canada, there is little reason to suspect that their language ability would be deficient given that they have been working in a skilled position in an English speaking milieu. Proof that an applicant has studied in the English language or has primarily utilied English in either education and/or employment should simply be sufficient. As always, there are challenges and opportunities for the immigration practitioner]