Premier Christy Clark announced this week the creation of a task force to review the system under which skilled immigrants and foreign investors come to B.C. and Canada.
Led by Richmond-Steveston MLA John Yap, the nine-member group will consist of community and business leaders and will review the Provincial Nominee Program, the Federal Skilled Worker Program, the Canadian Experience Class, and the Federal Immigrant Investor Program.
The task force will assess the efficiency of each program, and look at how to improve the federal government's responsiveness to immigration needs throughout Western Canada, the premier said in Vancouver Thursday.
"We've laid out an ambitious plan to create jobs in the BC Jobs Plan and we will need skilled immigrants to help fill more than one million job openings expected over the next decade," Clark said, noting that current B.C. residents are expected to account for only two-thirds of those positions.
"We don't know yet how we're going to fill those jobs," she said.
The goal of the task force is to assess the current system and find ways to attract more skilled workers every year.
To do that, task force members will meet with employers, industry and sector associations, settlement service providers, community associations and other relevant groups, Clark said.
"This is a province and a country that was built on immigration, and that hasn't changed."
Clark said she'd like to see the elimination of federal caps on the Provincial Nominee Program, which channels educated, experienced, skilled workers swiftly into the economy and accelerates the process to secure permanent residency.
The group's first meeting is scheduled for next week, Yap said.
"They're going to be busy over the next couple of months."
He said members of the team, which also includes former MP Stockwell Day, are participating on a volunteer basis and the government will cover the incidental costs of the initiative, which aren't expected to exceed $100,000.
A final public report will be submitted to the premier by March 31, 2012.
CONFIRMED MEMBERS OF TASK FORCE
. John Yap, chair - Richmond-Steveston MLA.
. Tung Chan (Richmond) - Former CEO SUCCESS/Chinese community leader.
. Stockwell Day (Penticton) - Government relations consultant/former minister/MP.
. Yuen Pau Woo (North Vancouver) - CEO Asia Pacific Foundation.
. Grace Wong (Vancouver) - Assistant dean, UBC/vice-chair SUCCESS.
. Tim McEwan (Prince George) - CEO, Initiatives Prince George.
. Suki Badh (Richmond) - College instructor/South Asian community leader.
. Michael Hwang (New Westminster) - Principal lawyer of Hwang & Company/founder and partner of Amicus Lawyers.
. Narindarpal Singh Kang (Vancouver) - Founder, Kang and Company Law Firm, specializing in immigration law.
Evan Duggan, Vancouver Sun
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