TORONTO - Canada is wooing more job-seekers to leave economically-troubled Ireland, federal immigration minister Jason Kenney said Saturday.
And the welcome has paid off, with more than 5,000 temporary workers from the Emerald Isle landing by late last year, he said at St. Patrick’s Day launch of the Irish Canadian Immigration Centre in Toronto.
That’s an 80% increase from 2010.
Canada has long been “the land of opportunity” for Irish, said Kenney, citing his ancestor’s arrival in 1852.
Their immigration here began in the 1500s, with 4.3 million Canadians listing Irish origins in the 2006 census.
“We know, today, that Ireland is in a spot of trouble, but there is good news,” Kenney said, adding of all recession-hit European nations, “Ireland is coming back more quickly.”
But for now, Canada can take advantage of its well-educated young workers whose skills are needed here, he said, adding some may wish to stay while others will head home after work programs end.
The federal government is considering lowering the working holiday visa program to allow more young workers to apply for permanent residency in Canada, Kenney said.
He lauded Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall, who visited Dublin and Cork job fairs in February with employee-seeking business leaders, with reports they were “absolutely thrilled with the quality and abilities available.”
Eamon Gilmore, Ireland’s foreign affairs minister and deputy prime minister, lauded Canada’s welcome mat policy for helping young workers, some of who will return home “with skills and experience that will help our economy.”
The good relationship will also “improve trade links between Canada and Ireland,” Gilmore predicted.
The Irish Immigration Centre was opened to aid recruitment of Irish workers to Canada, executive director Cathy Murphy said, citing calls from several provinces “and all over Ireland” since word spread of its creation.
“This centre has a real need, just likes ones in Australia and the United States,” Murphy said.
Oliver Murray, head of the 34-year-old Ireland Fund of Canada, said it provided $25,000 worth “of value” including legal support for the new immigration centre in the charity’s offices at 67 Yonge St.
Another $50,000 came from the government in Dublin, he said.