Recently updated immigration rules to Canada will target foreign workers from 18 to 35 years old. The move comes in response to a demographic crunch that has begun to take its toll on the country’s fiscal position.
The new rules overhaul the entire points system used by the government in approving work-related immigration applications. A new points grid has been designed to focus on younger workers with existing job offers and competitive English or French language skills.
Based on the new policies, applicants who are 47 or older will not get points for age, those within 18 and 35 get 12 (the highest given to Federal Skilled Worker Class applicants based on age) and points go down by one for every year counting from 35.
According to the Federal Government, these changes, which were announced on August 18, are based on the proven fact immigrants who are older are most probably not going to perform in the local labor market as successfully as their younger counterparts, even as critics continue to call for more flexibility in the points system.
The government cites current trends where the ratio of Canadians within working age to retirees is dramatically changing as reason for the policy reforms.
Furthermore, a federal analysis on the new rules finds them necessary in the face of Canada’s aging population and how it is becoming a major policy challenge for the government. According to the same analysis, the effects of the situation can be mitigated by the entry of younger people making more money.
There are independent researches proving that the government is correct in considering younger immigrants as more financially successful, but other sectors are assert that flexibility is important. The Maytree Foundation and Toronto Immigrant and and Employment Council, for example, think rules on age should be more relaxed.
In terms of language proficiency, the new policies will be giving more importance to English or French language skills, but points given to those who are proficient in both will be reduced to 4 from 8. According to some immigration to Canada professionals, this change could limit immigration from parts of the world where people almost do not speak either langauge, such as China or South Asia. However, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, through his spokesperson, dismisses such a theory.
Aside from modifying the Federal Skilled Worker Class, the new rules also set up a new Federal Skilled Trades Class and modify the Canadian Experience Class originally established by the Conservative government in 2008.
In general, all reforms are aimed at helping employers hire the manpower they need and simplifying the process for temporary workers who are applying for citizenship in Canada. The new policies also put less value on work experience acquired outside the country.
On its website, www.cic.gc.ca/english
One of the studies cited entitled “Immigrant Earnings: Age At Immigration Matters” and co-authored by McMcMaster University economics professor Arthur Sweetman says age-related changes on immigration rules are backed by factual data.
He says the reality of older immigrants having more difficulty surviving the Canadian labor market is perfectly clear. Dr. Sweetman also notes that the changes are expected to benefit both employers and new immigrants, but keeps mum on their possible effects on those who have been working in Canada before 2013. He does emphasize that Canadian employers must always find local workers prior to turning to the immigration system for qualified candidates.
On the other hand, National Democratic Party (NDP) immigration critic Jinny Sims believes the governments move to change the country’s demographics through reforms in immigration policies could be a mistake. She says considering someone older than 35 as too old does not jive with the government’s plan to let workers reach the age of 67 before they can qualify for Old Age Security.
(Note: The above rules are still in the proposal stage as of August 2012. Final amendments to this proposal will be announced at Canada Immigration and Citizenship website on a future date.)