The Government of Canada has announced that it is doubling the scope of a residence pilot program for out-of-status workers, which will now facilitate 1000 instead of 500 construction workers in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). 

The pilot program was launched by the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) in partnership with the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC). The program, launched in 2019, is aimed at helping Canadian employers address critical labor shortages, the government says. 

The government says this program offers construction workers and their families a path to permanent residency so that they can stay long-term. 

Eligible individuals have until January 2, 2024, to apply for permanent residence and can include their spouses, partners and dependent children in their application. Potential applicants will continue to submit their names to the CLC, who will determine their eligibility before referring them to IRCC.

Immigration accounts for almost 100% of Canada’s labor force growth. Roughly 75% of Canada’s population growth comes from immigration, mostly in the economic category. By 2036, immigrants will represent up to 30% of Canada’s population, compared to 20.7% in 2011.

Immigrants account for 36% of physicians and 33% of business owners with paid staff and 41% of engineers.

Since the launch of the out-of-status construction workers in the GTA pilot in July 2019, 452 individuals have been accepted as permanent residents. 

Under the pilot, applicants who have significant work experience in construction occupations in the GTA, family members in Canada, a referral letter from the CLC and no reason for being inadmissible other than overstaying their visa and working without authorization may be able to apply for permanent residence in Canada.

“By providing regular pathways for out-of-status migrants, we are not only protecting workers and their families, but also safeguarding Canada’s labor market and ensuring that we can retain the skilled workers we need to grow our economy and build our communities. This initiative is a testament to our government’s commitment to finding innovative solutions to support Canada’s workforce and strengthen our economy,” said Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

Robert Merwe, a construction contractor in Halton Hills said the program may address labor shortage in the construction market, but over time, it may need to accommodate more than a 1000 people. “There is a great need for workers in the construction and renovations market. Influx of more labor will help bridge the gap but the demand is surely more than 1000 workers”, he said. 

Tahir Khan, an immigrant construction worker in Mississauga, said he was delighted by the news. “Doubling of the capacity means more chances for everyone, including me and my family”, he said. 

By Muhammad Aamir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Milton Reporter

Original Published on Jan 28, 2023

This item reprinted with permission from   Milton Reporter   Milton, Ontario

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