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Weekly Canadian Immigration News Review & IRCC Updates November 20 – 26 2023 

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A founding partner of Abramovich & Tchern, Ksenia started her legal career at one of Canada’s top immigration firms, where she operated her own immigration law practice, with a focus on corporate and individual immigration applications.
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Abramovich & Tchern Immigration Lawyers present a weekly review of Canadian news, ensuring you stay informed about pertinent developments and changes in immigration law. Do not forget to follow us on social media platforms for real-time updates and additional insights.

Canada Will Need To Increase Immigration Targets To Increase Population Growth And Meet Labour Market Demands

Immigration is a vital component of Canada’s strategy for national growth. With approximately 23% of the population being immigrants, Canada boasts the highest percentage of immigrant residents among the G7 countries. The national goal for the year 2024 has been set at 485,000 new immigrants, which accounts for about 1.2% of Canada’s total population. This commitment to welcoming new residents is a strategic response to the country’s demographic challenges. Canada’s working-age population is showing a trend of decline, with the current ratio of workers to seniors standing at 3:1. This ratio is projected to decrease to 2:1 shortly, leading to significant concerns about the potential for labour shortages.

Immigration is a crucial solution to alleviate these emerging labour market pressures. In addition to providing a source of labour, these new arrivals contribute to the cultural and social fabric of the nation. Moreover, Canada has established itself as a global leader in refugee resettlement. Last year, the country welcomed over 46,500 refugees from 80 different countries. This included around 40,000 Afghans who were particularly vulnerable and in need of a safe place. This leadership position in refugee resettlement is a testament to Canada’s commitment to humanitarian values and its willingness to provide opportunities for those in need.

Ontario Plans To Raise Pay For Early Childhood Educators To Address Labour Shortages

Ontario will increase the minimum wage for early childhood educators (ECE) to $23.86 an hour—this increase from the original plan of $20 aims to address the personnel shortages impeding the national $10-a-day program`s growth.  This significant detail was featured in the childcare workforce strategy that Education Minister Stephen Lecce presented in November. With this wage increase, Ontario’s starting salaries for ECEs are set to be among the highest in Canada, a significant leap from their previous standing near the bottom. The province is also setting ambitious goals for the national childcare system, planning to introduce 86,000 new spaces by 2026. This will be a challenge considering projections of a potential shortage of 8,500 ECEs by that time.

Immigrants increasingly drive Ontario’s labour growth. This insight comes from a study based on 2021 Statistics Canada data, focusing on immigrants with permanent residence status. In 2022, Ontario welcomed 227,424 immigrants, substantially driving the province’s economic growth. The report highlights that even with a dip in numbers in 2020 and 2021 due to COVID-19, 2022 saw a surge of newcomers in Ontario due to eased border restrictions and higher immigration targets. Ontario’s share of immigrants to Canada has risen to 42.5% this year. Despite some fluctuations, immigrants comprise an increasing portion of the province’s labour force growth – 39% from 2007-2014 and 63% from 2015-2022.

The Government Of Canada Aims To Enhance Affordable Housing Options

On November 21, Canada’s Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland shared the 2023 Fall Economic Statement, which offers an update on the country’s financial roadmap. Recognizing the housing affordability crisis, a significant worry for new arrivals, the statement identifies an imbalance between supply and demand as the core issue. With Canada’s population surpassing 40 million this year, the government aims to rope in more skilled workers to stimulate the construction of homes. This includes creating pathways for construction workers to secure permanent residency. This has been realized by initiating category-specific rounds for Express Entry invitations, meaning candidates with particular skills can receive Invitations to Apply (ITAs), not just those with high Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) scores.

In addition, the Department of Finance is allocating $1.2 billion toward constructing new rental homes in Toronto to combat the housing crisis. The funds will be provided as low-interest loans via the Rental Construction Financing Initiative and spread across seven new projects. This joint announcement by Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland and Attorney General Arif Virani plans to deliver 2,644 new rental homes. Given that Toronto, Ontario’s largest city, is the primary destination for immigrants, this measure is particularly significant for new arrivals. The government aims to generate over 71,000 new rental housing units across Canada by 2027-28 to bolster community vibrancy. This initiative is part of national efforts to address housing availability and affordability.

International Students Are Advocating For A PGWP Extension In 2024

Canada’s international students are looking forward to a potential extension of the Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) policy in 2024. As of mid-2023, Canada is home to roughly 2.2 million temporary residents, with over 1 million holding work permits—a figure that has nearly doubled in just a year. The PGWP, usually a one-time issuance, saw a temporary extension amid the COVID-19 pandemic as part of Canada’s global crisis response. A recent extension added 18 more months for permits set to expire by December 2023, offering some breathing room for international students.

Many students previously relied on the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) category of the Express Entry system to secure permanent residency. However, the absence of CEC-specific rounds has recently led to a surge in competition, making it harder for applicants to secure their spots. Despite these challenges, international students remain optimistic about their future in Canada. They are hopeful that another extension to the PGWP will be granted, providing them with more opportunities to live and work in the country after their studies.

H-1B Visa Holders Are Exploring Employment Opportunities And Initiating Businesses In Canada

The United States, known for its thriving tech sector, has been a prime destination for many skilled H-1B visa holders seeking better opportunities. However, due to recent layoffs and stringent immigration rules, many foreign nationals are now seeking work in Canada. These changes in the US immigration landscape were primarily brought about by policies introduced by ex-President Donald Trump, which made entry into the US significantly more challenging for these highly skilled workers. These changes have profoundly impacted US tech firms, which rely heavily on the diverse talent these foreign workers bring. However, this situation has benefited Canada, which has seen an uptick in the number of skilled workers seeking opportunities within its borders.

The competition for H-1B visas is incredibly high, with major tech companies like Google, Amazon, and Microsoft sponsoring many H-1B applications. Despite the large number of applications, out of over 758,000 eligible applications, only 188,400 were selected. The situation is particularly dire for foreign nationals, who are at risk of deportation unless they can find a new sponsor within a 60-day window. Consequently, many are considering Canada’s Start-Up Visa (SUV) program. This program provides an enticing pathway to permanent residency for entrepreneurs who can secure a significant investment from designated Canadian venture capital funds, angel investor groups, or business incubators. Given the mounting uncertainty in the US, Canada’s SUV program has become an increasingly attractive option for many tech workers seeking stability and growth.

Canada Faces A Shortage Of 20,000 Truck Drivers

The trucking industry in Canada is currently facing a significant challenge. It is estimated that there is a need for at least 20,000 new drivers. This shortage is a potential economic risk due to the country’s heavy reliance on the trucking industry to transport goods and services. According to a report released by Food, Health & Consumer Products of Canada, a significant portion, about one-third, of the current workforce is nearing retirement age, and the industry’s labour gap could reach a staggering 30,000 if efforts to recruit new drivers do not improve. This problem is not isolated to any one area. It is a nationwide issue, with provinces like Ontario desperately needing approximately 6,100 drivers.

The report points to various elements leading to this shortage, pinpointing an aging workforce, shifting demographics, and concerns over driver compensation as key factors. To address this, the industry must render the profession more attractive to the younger generations. Trucking Canada has launched a significant PR endeavour, coupled with the Choose to Truck social media campaign, to draw fresh talent into the industry. These initiatives aim to boost awareness and ignite interest in trucking careers among the younger demographic.

Canada Boosts Support For Asylum Seekers

In response to the escalating number of asylum claims and the increasing pressure on shelters, the Canadian government has proactively decided to invest $7 million in establishing a new reception center. This center, located in the Peel Region, is part of the government’s broader effort to provide support and resources for asylum claimants seeking refuge in the country. The operation of this center will be carried out in collaboration with various community organizations, ensuring a comprehensive and practical approach. The center is intended to offer services and provide additional shelter capacity for asylum claimants, easing the strain on existing facilities.

Since 2017, the Canadian government has committed to this cause by providing close to $700 million to provinces and municipalities through the Interim Housing Assistance Program (IHAP). This program recently received a boost with an additional funding of $212 million. Furthermore, the federal government has also procured temporary accommodations to alleviate the increasing local shelter pressure. This strategy has proven effective, with over 7,000 asylum claimants in these temporary accommodations across Canada. This multi-pronged approach underscores the government’s commitment to addressing this issue.

Abramovich & Tchern Immigration Lawyers is a well-established firm that provides a comprehensive range of immigration services. These services cater to a broad spectrum of immigration needs, from temporary residence to permanent citizenship. If you are seeking expert legal assistance in navigating the complexities of the immigration process, our immigration lawyers are here to guide you every step of the way. Contact us today for a consultation.

Ksenia Tchern

A founding partner of Abramovich & Tchern, Ksenia started her legal career at one of Canada’s top immigration firms, where she operated her own immigration law practice, with a focus on corporate and individual immigration applications.