“Tomorrow is St. Patrick’s Day, a day of revelry celebrated by Canadians of all backgrounds and walks of life. The day commemorates the life of Saint Patrick, the fifth century ‘Apostle to the Irish.’ More than an excuse for merrymaking, it is an opportunity to recognize the enormous contributions to Canada made by people of Irish descent.
“Canada has always opened its doors to newcomers from around the world. For centuries, Canada has been a land of opportunity for the Irish people in particular. The Irish were among the first to arrive in Canada at the end of the 15th century. Today, it is estimated that over four million Canadians have Irish ancestry.
“Over the past seven years, nearly 4,000 people have come to Canada from Ireland as permanent residents. In doing so, they are building a stronger Canada, and strengthening ties between our two countries.
“Those ties are exemplified by the new Irish Canadian Immigration Centre, which helps meet the needs of newly-arrived Irish people in Canada. One year ago today, I was delighted to join Eamon Gilmore, the Deputy Prime Minister of Ireland, to officially open the centre in downtown Toronto.
“I was also pleased to be in Dublin last October to announce more opportunities for young Irish people to work in Canada, a result of an increase in the number of spaces in the International Experience Canada initiative for Ireland.
“The changes were made to meet the growing demand for this very popular program, which saw all of this year’s spaces snapped up by young Irish workers in just a few days last month. Those who find good, high-skilled jobs in Canada and want to stay and build a new life here may be able to apply to stay in Canada permanently if they so choose, like so many of their countrymen before them.
“As Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, I extend my best wishes for a happy St. Patrick’s Day to Canadians of Irish descent and to everyone celebrating this weekend.”
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