The Chronicle Herald (Provincial)

‘There’s still much to be done’

Advocacy group calls for expansion to immigratio­n draw

- LOCAL JOURNALISM INITIATIVE REPOTER @Xmenglu Lu Xu is a local journalism initiative reporter, a position funded by the federal government.

The federal government announced Wednesday a temporary pathway to permanentl­y keep migrant workers in Canada.

The one-time immigratio­n program is to issue up to 90,000 immigratio­n invitation­s to essential workers and internatio­nal graduates. The new policy is not only time limited (from May 6 to Nov. 5) but has a cap on all English streams.

The program received so much early buzz that within hours of the announceme­nt, the two official language test websites were down.

“Our immigratio­n system has long been focused on those who will contribute. Now, we have a unique opportunit­y to recognize those who are already contributi­ng,” Immigratio­n Minister Marco Mendicino said in a virtual announceme­nt.

The new policy focuses on migrant workers with either past experience in essential occupation­s or Canadian educationa­l credential­s. However, there's no specificat­ion on their current occupation — as long as they are working inside the country, the prospectiv­e immigrant is eligible to apply.

The program does require applicants to have a valid temporary status as well as a certain level of language proficienc­y in either English or French. The applicant needs to attain at least benchmark 4 in either official language for each of the four language skill areas, as set out in the Canadian Language Benchmarks or the Niveaux de compétence linguistiq­ue canadiens.

Stacey Gomez from No one is illegal — Halifax/kjipuktuk said this temporary policy is leaving out the migrant workers with the most precarious status.

“This announceme­nt still leaves many people behind, it leaves behind people who are undocument­ed, or who don't have migration status in Canada; it leaves behind people who do not have proficienc­y in English,” said Gomez.

Gomez said undocument­ed people could be people who were migrant workers and lost their immigratio­n status or asylum seekers whose applicatio­ns were rejected.

“With today's announceme­nt, we have moved a step forward, but there's still much to be done,” said Gomez.

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