Canada Wants Immigration Despite Crisis

Canada wants immigration despite crisis

22 Nov 2008, 2204 hrs IST

KIEV: Canada will maintain its current policy of encouraging immigration to meet identified labour shortages in key areas despite the world-wide financial crisis, Jason Kenney, the minister for immigration, said.

Kenney, interviewed late on Friday in the Ukrainian capital Kiev, said consultations with provincial governments, labour and industry showed that immigrants with the right skills were still needed to ensure economic growth.

“Obviously, the economic crisis worries us a great deal… But we believe it would be counterproductive, from an economic growth point of view, to cut off a labour supply from those sectors of the economy that are still growing by reducing immigration levels,” he said.

“We intend to maintain a robust immigration programme but we'll obviously monitor the situation closely to make sure it is working for Canada and our economy.”

The minister of citizenship, immigration and mulitculturalism added:

“Canada will not be going in the direction of developed countries like Australia and Britain that are looking at dramatic cuts in immigration intake.”

According to the Canadian government website the 2001 census showed that immigrants accounted for 5.45 million of a total population of just over 29 million.

Prospective immigrants filling shortages, he said, could include “nurses from the Philippines, heavy equipment operators from Ukraine or consumer software designers from India”.

The government was tackling a backlog of more than 830,000 applications and simplifying the system by allowing provinces and individual employers to recruit the workers they needed.

Additional measures would make it easier for students and temporary workers now in Canada to extend their stay.

Kenney said he would soon be announcing in parliament the level of immigrants to be accepted in 2009.

Canada currently takes in more than 300,000 per year and Prime Minister Stephen Harper, re-elected last month but still heading a minority government, said this week the country needed workers suited to its economic requirements.

Kenney also said Canada would respect its longstanding commitment to family reunions, while intensifying efforts to ferret out fraud, identify legitimate refugees and keep down the burden on Canada's overworked health care system.

News reports have documented what are described as systematic attempts to defraud the Canadian system by agencies offering advice to would-be immigrants, many from Latin America.

“I think we are much more sophisticated in trying to identify fraud,” he said.

“The statistics demonstrate that we have had success, that we have been able increasingly vet out fraudulent applications, though some people will always get through and that is an ongoing challenge to us.

Kenney was in Ukraine to attend commemorations marking the 75th anniversary of the mass famine engineered by Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.