National Post (National Edition)

Path to permanent residency eased


Ottawa is creating a new pathway to permanent residency for 90,000 essential workers and internatio­nal graduates who are already in Canada, Immigratio­n Minister Marco Mendicino said Wednesday.

The new policy will grant permanent status to temporary workers and graduates who possess the skills and experience the country needs to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and achieve an economic recovery, Mendicino said.

“Canada's path to prosperity lies through immigratio­n because newcomers ... will come and roll up their sleeves and contribute and give back in our health care sector and in many other vital areas of the economy,” he said at a news conference.

Mendicino said health care and other eligible essential workers must have at least one year of Canadian work experience to apply, while internatio­nal graduates must have completed an eligible Canadian post-secondary program within the last four years.

On May 6, the Immigratio­n Department will start accepting up to 50,000 applicatio­ns from health care and other essential workers and 40,000 applicatio­ns from internatio­nal students who graduated from a Canadian institutio­n.

The Immigratio­n Department said the new policy will help the government meet its goal to accept 401,000 new permanent residents this year.

So far, Canada has accepted 70,000 new permanent residents, according to official numbers provided to Reuters. Three-quarters of those 70,000 were already living in the country.

With Canada's borders closed and COVID-19 rampant, the target is tough to meet. So the government is focusing on an immigrant pool already within its borders.

Last year Canada added only 184,370 new permanent residents, the fewest since 1998 and well short of its 341,000 target.

Mendicino said the jobs that are deemed essential are the same ones that people have sometimes labelled lower-skilled.

“From caring for seniors to putting food on our tables, we now have a greater appreciati­on for the many skills and talents and supports that temporary workers are contributi­ng right across our economy.”

Mendicino said he hopes Canadians will look back on this moment as a time when the country began to recognize the value of essential workers with an immigratio­n policy that reflects appreciati­on for their roles.

“What began as temporary changes to keep our economy going are now blossoming into a wider shift in how we see and treat immigratio­n to Canada,” he continued.

Leah Nord, a director at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, welcomed the new program, saying it's “an important step toward the inclusive pandemic recovery.”

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