38 job categories listed in bid to clear backlog; critics say the move offers’no solutions’

Toronto Star
November 29, 2008

Noor Javed
Nicholas Keung
Staff Reporters

If you’re planning to move to Canada, you’ll have to check the list first.

Thirty-eight in-demand occupations were unveiled by the Harper government yesterday, setting out a new selection criteria for skilled immigrants, allowing those with relevant skills to be fast-tracked into the country.

The occupations include jobs in the field of health, skilled trades and the finance sector. Details of the long-awaited “ministerial instructions” were posted on the Citizenship and Immigration Canada website (www.cic.gc.ca), and come into effect immediately.

Skilled workers whose occupations are on the list will be fast-tracked for acceptance as permanent residents under the skilled worker immigration class. New applications that do not meet the eligibility criteria will not be processed, and the application fee will be refunded.

“Applicants who aren’t eligible for the federal skilled worker category may qualify under another category,” said Jason Kenney, minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, in a release yesterday. “There are many ways to immigrate to Canada.”

They include applying as temporary foreign workers or through the provincial nominee program under a job offer by a Canadian employer.

The controversial plan was first introduced in March by then immigration minister Diane Finley, as a way to reduce the backlog of 900,000 immigration files and bring in the right skilled immigrants. Previously, applicants faced wait times of up to six years. Under the new rules, applicants should receive a decision within six to 12 months.

Olivia Chow, New Democrat MP for Trinity-Spadina, who was an opponent of the controversial immigration changes, says the list offers no real solutions to the backlog.

“The government’s solution is throwing out the applications. It’s absurd,” she said.

The list is also aimed at responding to Canada’s changing labour market and economic needs. But Chow says the list has already become outdated.

“It took the government all these months to come up with these professions, and things have completely changed in the last few months. People are being laid off in the financial sector,” she said. Financial managers and accountants are on the list.

Ottawa consulted the provinces and territories, employers, industry groups and academics to come up with the list.

Kenney is confident the occupation list is current despite concerns over the softening economy. “It is difficult to project the consequences for immigration as a result of the global economic crisis,” Kenney told theStar yesterday.

“There is no fixed schedule (to update the list), but we will monitor and amend it as necessary,” he said.

Gurmeet Bambrah, with the Council for Access to the Profession of Engineering, made up of foreign-trained engineers, says such policies are counterproductive. Of its 1,820 members, all of whom are engineers, 60 per cent are underemployed or underutilized in Canada.

“You can’t keep bringing people into the country you aren’t going to employ,” said Bambrah. “Not only are they forced to go on to welfare, so they are a burden on society, but it’s also that you are killing all their creativity,” she said. “You have to go back and ask what is the focus of your immigration policy, and why are you particularly targeting these people?”

The skilled jobs

Financial Managers
Computer and Information Systems Managers
Managers in Health Care
Restaurant and Food Service Managers
Accommodation Service Managers
Construction Managers
Financial Auditors and Accountants
Geologists, Geochemists and Geophysicists
Mining Engineers
Geological Engineers
Petroleum Engineers
Specialist Physicians
General Practitioners and Family Physicians
Audiologists and Speech Language Pathologists
Occupational Therapists
Head Nurses and Supervisors
Registered Nurses
Medical Radiation Technologists
Licensed Practical Nurses
University Professors
College and Other Vocational Instructors
Contractors and Supervisors, Pipefitting Trades
Contractors and Supervisors, Carpentry Trades
Contractors and Supervisors, Heavy Construction Equipment Crews
Electricians (Except Industrial and Power System)
Industrial Electricians
Steamfitters, Pipefitters and Sprinkler System Installers
Welders and Related Machine Operators
Heavy-Duty Equipment Mechanics
Crane Operators
Drillers and Blasters – Surface Mining, Quarrying and Construction
Supervisors, Mining and Quarrying
Supervisors, Oil and Gas Drilling and Service
Supervisors, Petroleum, Gas and Chemical Processing and Utilities

Reference: Toronto Star