|Internal development of Canada's internal borders, from the formation of the dominion to the present. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
By Tobi Cohen
Thousands of newcomers destined for low-skilled jobs Canadians don’t want in far-flung parts of the country will now be subject to mandatory language testing, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney announced Wednesday during a stop in Saskatoon.
Starting July 1, Kenney said Provincial Nominee Program applicants in semi and low skilled professions will be tested and will be required to meet a minimum standard when it comes to listening, speaking, reading and writing in Canada’s official languages — English and French.
Additional changes will be made to the program to ensure economic streams are also prioritized.
As a result, immigrants coming to Canada under PNPs will arrive with much better language skills and will be selected for the impact they can have on Canada’s economy,” he said in a news release.
“We have supported enormous growth in the number of provincial nominees in recent years because it makes sense for the provinces and territories to have the flexibility to meet regional needs.”
The new language requirements will impact tradespeople, those in manufacturing, sales and services, as well as certain clerical and assistant categories.
Applicants will be required to provide valid test scores from a designated testing agency.
Temporary foreign workers who arrive before July 1, 2012 and transition to the provincial nominee program within a year have a one-time exemption.
More than 38,000 workers and their families came to Canada last year through the program which gives the provinces and territories a greater say in immigration in a bid to fill gaps in their local labour markets.
It’s also helped spread out the immigrant population as more and more people have been choosing to settle outside traditionally popular provinces like Ontario and British Columbia.
An economic boom in Saskatchewan, for example, has seen the program grow to 5,354 immigrants in 2010 compared to just 173 in 2003.
Kenney hinted in January that the government would bring in language proficiency requirements as a means of cracking down on fraud.
At the time, he suggested a “correlation” existed between high levels of immigration fraud and regions that don’t make language proficiency a top priority.
He said it was a particular problem with immigrant investor programs in Eastern Canada.
In fact, allegations of fraud, mismanagement and a series of lawsuits prompted the government to shut down immigrant investor programs in Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick.
Some provinces were allowing consultants to run fast and loose and attract people who had a lot of money but no language proficiency,” Kenney said at the time.
With a file from The Calgary Herald