A revised points-based selection grid will be introduced to favour young immigrants with strong language skills, says federal Immigration Minister Jason Kenney.
Prospective immigrants in licensed professions will need to be pre-assessed to ensure they are likely to get certification in Canada before their applications are processed, Kenney said in Toronto at the annual gathering of Metropolis, an immigration research network that is about to lose its federal funding.
Currently, immigration applicants can skirt the mandatory language requirement by entering through the Provincial Nominee Program, which allows provinces to select immigrants with job offers from local employers.
Under the new grid, to be introduced by the end of the year, Kenney said provincial nominees will face a higher bar as well, because research has shown that language proficiency enhances social and economic integration in the long run.
“We must make better choices. We must select immigrants who have the skills and traits we know will lead to their success, and qualifications that are already recognized in Canada, or can be recognized in a short time,” he said.
While the federal government does not plan to require spouses of applicants in the federal skilled worker program to undergo language tests, Kenney said they will be awarded more points if their spouses are proficient in English or French.
Calling the revised system “more flexible and intelligent,” Kenney said a welder with a job offer in Prince George would not face the same expectations with regard to language skills as someone expecting to work as a physician.
Plans are also underway to change the federal immigration programs for entrepreneurs and investors, though Kenney gave few details.
“In the United States, half of the top 50 venture-capital backed companies are founded by immigrants. We do not nearly do as well in Canada. We must do a better job attracting entrepreneurs and investors to Canada,” he said.
Meanwhile, Kenney said Canada will continue to offer protection to refugees and the family reunification program.
“I strongly believe that economic integration is the best path to social integration,” he said. If new Canadians can maximize their contribution to the labour market, social integration will quickly follow.”
Torstar News Service