Monday, March 5, 2012

Employers could bump up prospects in immigration overhaul

Employers could bump up prospects in immigration overhaul Staff

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney speaks during a press conference in Ottawa, Thursday, Feb. 16, 2012.
Immigration Minister Jason Kenney outlined his vision Thursday for a faster immigration system that would allow employers a greater say in selecting new Canadians.

"Immigration is playing an increasingly important role in our economy and we need a system that does a better job of attracting the people who have the skills that are in demand and getting them here quickly," Kenney said in the keynote address to the National Metropolis Conference in Toronto. "We have made some great strides towards an immigration system that is fast and flexible, but know that there is more work to do."

Kenney's plan would see employers have the ability hand-pick potential immigrants and bring them to the front of the line.

Kenney says he plans to redesign the immigration point system to be more flexible and place greater emphasis on language ability and youth.

For example, Kenney said, the language requirement for a foreign doctor would be different than that of a welder.

Kenney said Canada has to do a better job of attracting entrepreneurs, noting that in the U.S., half of the top 50 venture-capital backed companies were founded by immigrants.

He also promised to relieve pressure on the backlog in the system, as there are wait times of up to seven years in some categories.

"It makes no sense to tell people 'apply now, but put your life on hold for a few years before we'll even let you know if you qualify,'" Kenney said. "I will continue to make changes to create a faster, more flexible immigration system. Canadians need and deserve a system that boldly puts Canada's best interests first."