Please, Mr. Minister, open a pathway for non- status workers, as well

Immigration matters\ Sukhram Ramkissoon

Please, Mr. Minister, open a pathway for non- status workers, as well

Sukhram Ramkissoon

Earlier this month, Immigration Minister Marco E. L. Mendicino announced an innovative pathway to permanent residence for over 90,000 essential workers and international graduates who are actively contributing to Canada’s economy.

This public policy will apply to temporary workers and international graduates who are already in Canada and who possess the skills and experience which are  needed to fight the pandemic and accelerate the economic recovery and are” in status” in Canada.

To be eligible, workers must have at least one1 year of Canadian work experience in a health-care profession or another pre-approved essential occupation. International graduates must have completed an eligible Canadian post-secondary program within the last four years and no earlier than January 2017.

Effective May 6, 2021, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will begin accepting applications under the following three streams:

  • 20,000 applications for temporary workers in health care
  • 30,000 applications for temporary workers in other selected essential occupations
  • 40,000 applications for international students who graduated from a Canadian institution

The streams will remain open until November 5, 2021, or until they have reached their limit. Up to 90,000 new permanent residents will be admitted under these three streams.  

With an accelerated pathway to permanent residency, these special public policies will encourage essential temporary workers and international graduates to put down roots in Canada and help us retain the talented workers we need, particularly in our healthcare system, the Minister, stated.

Of course, the announcement will partly help the Government achieve its 2021 Immigration Levels Plan, which will see Canada welcome 401,000 new permanent residents. The skilled newcomers and international graduates welcomed under this plan will help create jobs and drive long-term growth in Canada. 

However, while the Minister’s announcement is commendable, he failed to address the tens of thousands of foreign nationals who are   without status or failed refugee claimants already employed in Canada and are contributing significantly to the labour market.  It should be also taken into consideration that these vulnerable workers are often exploited, underpaid, and abused and are anxious to have their status regularised which can only be done by you, Mr. Minister.

Most of these workers are also performing essential services in the health, construction and general labourers.

Additionally, there are Foreign Students who graduated before 2017 who do not meet the current criteria under Express Entry Program for several reasons. Sadly, they are languishing in Canada due to the Pandemic and because of our Provinces going into their third lockdown, suspended flights, and other mitigating risk returning to their homeland should give rise for consideration in their circumstance like this “new outreach program” as I call it.   Bear in mind that this group continues to contribute or have contributed to the growth of our economy and they all have the fortitude to continue to be success stories for our great country Canada.

In granting permanent residence to these individuals who have work experience in critical occupations, Canada will also benefit from their skills and abilities over the long term.

SUKHRAM RAMKISSOON is a member of ICCRC and specializes in Immigration Matters at No. 3089 Bathurst Street, Suite 219A, Toronto, Ontario. Phone 416 789 5756.