Source: Toronto Star
This is both logical and necessary. Canada’s unemployment is sitting around 7.3%, it’s time we lower the unemployed population before bringing in any newcomers who won’t be able to find any work.
Ottawa will stop accepting new immigration applications to the federal skilled worker and investor programs starting Monday, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney says.
Kenney said the skilled worker program will be reopened in January, when “important changes” will be made. However, the investor program will be halted indefinitely so the government can “make progress on processing its existing inventory.”
The news has caught prospective applicants and their lawyers off guard as they were not given advance notice to submit applications that are almost ready.
“But we’re not really surprised by anything this government does. It is rewriting the rules. It is consistent with its pattern to freeze everything to deal with the backlog,” said Toronto immigration lawyer Daniel Kingwell.
“Our concern is its shortsightedness. We are competing with other jurisdictions for the best and brightest. Immigrants are going to look elsewhere when their applications are being tossed into the garbage and the government is shutting down programs indefinitely.”
Kenney maintained that the pause would have no impact on the number of workers admitted into Canada because Ottawa continues to process applications already received.
“The temporary pause on new federal skilled worker applications will allow us to set the program on a new course as we intend to launch revised selection criteria soon,” Kenney said in a statement Thursday.
It is not known what further changes Ottawa will make to the federal skilled worker program, but Kenney has said he’d like to create a new application management system for Canadian employers to choose potential job candidates from a ready pool of pre-screened skilled immigrants.
Last year, Kenney capped the number of applications for the investor program to 700 spots and doubled the minimum investment requirements from $400,000 to $800,000. The quota was filled in 30 minutes. There are currently 25,000 investor applications representing 86,000 principals and dependents in the backlog.
Currently, the federal skilled worker program has an inventory of 463,214 people waiting for a decision. Ottawa is hoping to ramp through a new law that would allow Kenney to return and dispose the files of some 280,000 people submitted before Feb. 28, 2008.
Affected applicants are filing a class action lawsuit against Ottawa, which has agreed not to destroy or return their applications within 90 days of the bill’s passage until the lawsuit is certified by the court. A court date is expected for September.