New Federal Skilled Trades Immigration Program Receives Widespread Praise

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Michael Atkinson, president of the Canadian Construction Association:

“The Canadian Construction Association is especially pleased to hear today’s announcement that the new federal Skilled Trades Program to be launched on January 2nd, 2013.  The introduction of a dedicated and streamlined program for skilled trades addresses many of the shortcomings in the current federal Skilled Worker Program.  The new program ensures greater consideration is given to the needs of the industry when processing eligible immigrant applications. 

The current federal Skilled Worker Program has not been trades friendly … and our industry faces some labour market challenges going forward. There is an international economic survey that forecasts that Canada will have the fifth largest construction market in the world by 2020, next only to the US, China, India and Japan.  The Construction Sector Council says that we’re going to need some 320,000 new workers by 2020 just to replace those that will be retiring in the intervening period and to keep pace with the high demand our industry currently is seeing … Of the 320,000 new workers that we’ll need by 2020, the Construction Council says about half of those are going to have to come from foreign trained workers.  Yes, we would like to be able to meet all of our labour demands with our domestic workforce, but it’s just not going to be possible and immigration is going to be one of the tools, one of the ways that we can meet that. 

We look forward to continuing to work with Minister Kenney and the Government of Canada in building a fast, flexible and efficient immigration system that supports the Canadian economy and creates Canada’s competitive workforce of the future.”

(Transcript from Federal Skilled Trades Program announcement – December 10, 2012)

Perrin Beatty, President and CEO, Canadian Chamber of Commerce:

“Canada will be better positioned to fill the demand for skilled tradespersons thanks to the introduction of a new immigration stream.  This is welcome news for employers, particularly in Western Canada, who are struggling to fill positions with enough Canadian-born trades professionals. During our consultations this year, we heard that most employers would prefer permanent residents for their immigrant skilled tradespersons.

“We applaud Minister Kenney and the government for making changes to our immigration policy and programs that support economic growth by focusing on our skilled labour needs.  The new stream for skilled trades will have specific criteria, providing a dedicated path for skilled tradespersons with the rights skills and experience to apply for permanent residency in Canada.”

(News Release – December 11, 2012)

Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB):

“With the growing demand for skilled workers across Canada, CFIB has pushed to make the federal immigration system work for small business owners. Starting January 2nd, 2013, Minister Kenney announced that a new Federal Skilled Trade Stream will begin accepting applications.  The new system will better address the need for in-demand skilled workers. CFIB is pleased that the federal government is reforming the system to ensure there is a faster and more flexible way to access workers.” 

(News Release – December 11, 2012)

Terrance Oakey, President of Merit Canada:

“These changes are long overdue.  The immigration system must respond better to the needs of employers to ensure those immigrating to Canada have the skills required to obtain long-term stable employment.  These changes are a positive step forward that will allow employers to address the massive skilled workers shortage facing our industry.” 

(News Release – December 11, 2012)

Bill Stewart, vice-president, Merit Contractors Association in Alberta:

“Today’s announcement is good news for the construction industry because the need for workers with trade skills will continue to grow as Alberta’s economy grows.”

(Journal of Commerce – December 17, 2012)

Dan Tadic, executive director of the Canadian Welding Association (CWA):

“For a long period of time, many of the federal skilled trade immigration initiatives have been consumed with red tape, did not successfully address the demand for skilled labour, and created barriers that caused the ongoing shortage in the country’s welding industry. This initiative, however, seems to limit the barriers and is a step in the right direction that will assist with the growing demand for welders from coast to coast.”

(News release – December 18, 2012)

Craig Martin, vice president of the Office of Public Safety for the Canadian Welding Bureau (CWB):

“A program like this is a proactive step forward because it will further allow more CWB qualified welders to enter the country, provide exceptional craftsmanship and fill the ongoing shortage.”

(News release – December 18, 2012)

David Lindsay, President and CEO of Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC):

“This is excellent news for our sector considering the shortage of qualified labour in many parts of Canada that is expected to only get worse. The changes announced today may help many of our member companies fill critical job openings so that their mills can operate at an optimum level and contribute to further job creation and economic growth for Canada. Right now we are competing with other industries, especially in the resource sector, to fill essential positions.  We need to work together with other industries and governments on a comprehensive national strategy to address the acute labour and skills shortage. The dedicated program announced today is one step in that direction.”

(News Release – December 10, 2012)

Brian Freemark, Chairman of the Alberta Construction Association:

“The Alberta Construction Association is very pleased with the federal government’s announcement of a new program to enhance immigration of skilled trades.  The Association has been very encouraged with changes to federal immigration programs over the past year to better address labour market needs of the Alberta economy.

“While Alberta employers invest millions of dollars annually in scholarships, tuition reimbursement, and support to technical institutes and colleges, there simply aren’t enough Canadian graduates to fill the need for growth and to replace retiring tradespeople. In fact, skilled foreign trades help ensure uninterrupted employment for Canadian tradespeople by filling shortages.

“The Alberta Construction Association has been recommending an immigration program specifically to increase immigration of skilled trades, and this new program looks very promising.”

(News Release – December 10, 2012)

Jeanette Sutherland, Manager of Workforce and Productivity, Calgary Economic Development:

“Pipefitters, welders, a lot of those skilled trades positions that are significantly in demand. This [new program] is really going to add to our benefit.”

(CBC Radio – December 10, 2012)

R. Reis Pagtakhan, Immigration Lawyer:

“These changes are long overdue and provide Manitoba an opportunity to focus its immigration program to fill other gaps in the workforce. Under past immigration programs, skilled tradespeople had a more difficult time immigrating to Canada than professionals. When workplace shortages began to emerge in skilled trades, there was no easy way for them to immigrate to Canada.  By setting up a system that will also deal with a tradesperson’s foreign-obtained credentials before arrival, Canada should be able to ensure that they can make the maximum contribution to our society.”

(Winnipeg Free Press commentary – December 20, 2012)

Richard Kurland, Immigration Lawyer:

“The feds just stepped up to the plate …We’re selecting smarter. We’re selecting quicker. And this is just the first step in a series of changes that are going to be rolled out in 2013 …”

(CKNW Radio – December 11, 2012)

Avvy Go, Director Metro Toronto Chinese and Southeast Asian Legal Clinic:

“I think it’s definitely a small though positive step in the right direction because over the last decade we have made it harder and harder for people to come in through the skilled workers program.”

(CBC News Network – December 10, 2012)

Stephen Khan, Alberta Enterprise and Advanced Education Minister:

“It’s definitely a move in the right direction for Alberta’s interests.”

(Calgary Herald – December 11, 2012)

Robert Vineberg, research fellow at the Canada West Foundation:

“Immigration Minister Jason Kenney’s announcement that a new stream for skilled tradespersons will be introduced on Jan. 1 is a welcome and long overdue enhancement to Canada’s immigration system.

“Over the years, the point system has been modified to place more emphasis on university education and less on apprenticeship and on-the-job experience. As a result, by the 1990s, it had become almost impossible for apprenticed trades to qualify for immigration as a federal skilled worker under the point system.

“The new skilled trades stream will make the federal program relevant and accessible, once again, for skilled tradespersons. It will establish criteria appropriate to the education and experience required for skilled trades and set language requirements at a reasonable level. A carpenter need not be able to speak English or French at the same level as a university professor, so long as he or she can communicate effectively with an employer or customer.

“The skilled trades stream will start small with intake limited to 3,000 applications in the first year, but given the need for skilled trades in Canada, we can look to this stream becoming a major part of Canada’s immigration program in years to come.” 

(Calgary Herald – December 12, 2012)

Sarah Watts Reinhardt, Executive Director Canadian Apprenticeship Forum:

“Across the country when we look at shortages in trades really across the country, across trades, across different sectors there is an estimate that we are about 1 million people short by 2020. So when we start looking at trying to fill that gap, especially in the resource extraction sectors where there’s a huge need for skilled trades and it’s so fundamental to our economy … that really becomes a really serious shortage.  I think [the new Federal Skilled Worker Program] is a necessary course of action.”

(CBC Radio – December 10, 2012)

Paula Simons, Edmonton Journal:

“Any new program that channels highly skilled, employable new immigrants here quickly, and gives them and their families permanent residency, and a leg-up on citizenship, is a good thing.   We shouldn’t apologize for creating an immigration system that actively recruits those our economy needs most now, those best-equipped to thrive here, and lets them apply to be future citizens – even if that means letting them jump the queue.”

(Edmonton Journal – December 11, 2012)

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Alexis Pavlich
Minister’s Office
Citizenship and Immigration Canada

Media Relations
Communications Branch
Citizenship and Immigration Canada

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