On May 31, 2023, Canada introduced a significant change in its immigration system aimed at better meeting labour market needs and strengthening French communities. The Honourable Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, announced the first-ever launch of category-based selection for Canada’s flagship economic immigration management system, Express Entry. This move is expected to address the chronic labour shortages experienced by employers across the country.
With employers keen on filling numerous vacant positions across various sectors, immigration has become an essential solution. To this end, the category-based selection will permit Canada to issue invitations to potential permanent residents with specific skills, training, or language abilities. Further details on the schedule of invitations for individual categories and application procedures are to be announced in the coming weeks.
The initial year will prioritize candidates based on certain criteria:
- Candidates must have strong proficiency in the French language.
- Candidates should possess work experience in specific fields, which include:
- Healthcare (NOC Category 3)
- Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) (NOC Category 2)
- Trades such as carpentry, plumbing, and contracting (NOC Category 723)
- Transport (NOC Category 733)
- Agriculture and agri-food. (NOC Category 8)
The implementation of category-based selection is expected to render Express Entry more responsive to the country’s changing economic and labour market needs. The focus remains on inviting skilled workers with the potential to integrate and contribute to Canada’s future. Moreover, prioritizing Francophone immigration ensures the sustainability of French-speaking communities, enabling residents to continue living in Canada in the official language of their choice.
Express Entry, Canada’s primary application management system for those seeking to immigrate permanently, encompasses the Federal Skilled Worker Program, the Federal Skilled Trades Program, the Canadian Experience Class, and a portion of the Provincial Nominee Program. Following changes made to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act in June 2022, the Minister now has the authority to select immigrants based on key attributes that align with economic priorities, such as specific work experience or knowledge of French.
Public consultations, prior to establishing a new category, are a legislative requirement. They involve various stakeholders, including provinces and territories, members of industry, unions, employers, workers, worker advocacy groups, settlement provider organizations, and immigration researchers and practitioners. IRCC is expected to report annually to Parliament on the chosen categories and selection process, including the reasons for the choices.
As confirmed by Employment and Social Development Canada, the number of occupations facing shortages has doubled between 2019 and 2021. With immigration accounting for almost 100% of Canada’s labour force growth, it’s clear that the new category-based selection system is a well-thought-out response to these labour market realities. The first category-based invitations to apply are slated to be sent later this summer, further highlighting the government’s commitment to tackling chronic labour shortages and promoting social and economic prosperity.