The federal government has put a cap of 20,000 on the number of visa applications it will review from skilled immigrants over the next 12 months and also has reduced the number of occupations under which foreign workers can apply.
Immigration Minister Jason Kenney says the changes, which are effective immediately, were needed to avoid creating new backlogs and processing times under the foreign worker program. In the first quarter of this year alone, there were more than 33,000 applications, according to government figures.
The applications will be accepted on a first-come, first-serve basis. The caps, to last until June 30, 2011, do not apply to foreign workers with a job offer in hand.
It is interesting to see which occupations were cut and which were added to the list.
In revamping the system, the government cut nine occupations from the original list of 38. It removed 20 occupations from the original list, kept 18 and added 11 new ones.
Financial managers, university professors, mining engineers and occupational therapists are among those cut from the list, while architects, dentists, pharmacists and social workers are among the occupations added to the list.
The government also tightened its language requirements, saying applicants must submit proof from a designated independent tester that they are proficient in one of Canada's two official languages. Under the old rules, applicants had the option of proving their language ability in a written submission.
Social workers? Really!? And dentists? In the part of Toronto were I live you cannot throw a rock without hitting a dentist's office.
In any case, I wonder if this will have any effect on the character of immigration inflows. What I mean by this is will certain countries (India and China) see a reduction in the number of people they export to Canada. I've noticed that some of the occupations cut from the list are ones, I imagine, that allow many Indian and Chinese immigrants to come to Canada whereas those added to the list do not. This isn't to say that there are no Indian or Chinese architects but I think it is safe to assume that there are far more Indian and Chinese financial planners or professors coming to Canada than architects.
These cuts to the skilled immigrant category and stricter language proficiency requirements reinforces what I have been saying all along: Canada is brining in too many immigrants. If the skilled category is providing an over supply of labour to Canada then what does it say about the other immigrants who come to Canada? Are we still going to see 250,000+ immigrants a year or is this among the first few steps to bringing the numbers down and regaining control of the system? Is family reunification on Jason Kenney's radar screen? I hope so.