Canada Scraps Some Skilled Immigrant Applications

The federal government will scrap some 300,000 foreign skilled worker applications filed before Feb. 27, 2008, to make the system more efficient and better able to fill gaps in the labour force.

By Randall Palmer, Reuters (published on

Ottawa – The federal government plans to eliminate a backlog of stale immigration applications by skilled workers, in a potentially controversial move designed to enable immigrants whose skills are in greater current demand to enter the country faster.

Some employers have complained backlogs have hobbled the immigration system and made it unable to respond nimbly to demand for foreign workers in higher growth sectors such as video-gaming and the oil patch.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said on Thursday Canada now plans to return almost all of the 300,000 foreign skilled worker applications that were filed before Feb. 27, 2008, along with their $130 million in fees. Some have been waiting for one decade or more.

Flaherty made the announcement in his annual budget, saying the reforms would make the system faster and more efficient.

“We will ensure it is designed above all to strengthen Canada’s economy. As a result, we will be better able to fill gaps in our labour force,” Flaherty told the House of Commons in his budget speech.

It is an irony national unemployment is running at more than seven per cent while certain industries face labour shortages, but such employers may be looking for people with certain skills not found among most of the unemployed.

But someone who applied in 2001 may not have the skills needed in 2012, and if she was 42 when she applied would now be 53 and have fewer working years.

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