Attracting and Retaining Skilled Immigrants
Recommendations by Ontario’s Expert Roundtable on Immigration
In response to challenges with Canada's current immigration system and federal cuts to Ontario's settlement funding, the Ontario government established the Expert Roundtable on Immigration.
The expert roundtable was created to assess how immigration can best support Ontario's economic development and help immigrants succeed. Its role was to provide advice to the government to inform the development of the first Ontario immigration strategy.
In developing the report, the roundtable consulted with some of Canada's leading economists, researchers, and senior officials from both the Governments of Ontario and Canada.
Their 32 recommendations are presented in "Expanding our Routes to Success: The Final Report by Ontario's Expert Roundtable on Immigration" and are listed below. Recommendations address issues including immigrant selection, settlement and integration, and foreign qualification recognition.
1. Over the long-term, the level of immigration to Ontario should be increased to at least one per cent of its population, or 135,000 people per year. At least 65 to 70 per cent of these immigrants should be economic class immigrants.
2. Selection processes should be fair, transparent, and facilitate diversity in the mix of immigrant source countries.
3. Economic immigrants should be selected based on criteria that emphasize human capital, rather than current occupation.
4. A revamped Federal Skilled Worker Program should continue to be the main source of economic immigration to Ontario.
5. The priority occupations list for the Federal Skilled Worker Program should be eliminated.
6. The Governments of Canada and Ontario should work in partnership on the design and operation of the new Expression of Interest (EOI) model.
7. The Government of Ontario needs to engage employers and municipalities in identifying labour market needs and challenges.
8. Efforts should be made through the Canadian Experience Class program to retain individuals who have experience working and studying in Ontario.
9. Selecting economic immigrants based on occupational and other narrow criteria should be done only on a limited basis.
10. Ontario's Provincial Nominee Program should be used to respond to specific occupational shortages and to the needs of communities, including Francophone and rural communities.
11. The Government of Canada should raise the cap on Ontario's Provincial Nominee Program from its current level of 1,000 to 5,000 people per year.
12. The Federal Skilled Worker Backlog Reduction Pilot should be extended to 2014 and expanded.
13. The Federal Temporary Foreign Worker Program should focus on recruiting high-skilled workers and workers in the skilled trades and facilitating the rapid filling of temporary vacancies.
14. Ontario should make better use of the Temporary Foreign Worker Agreement to accomplish its objectives under recommendation #13.
15. Ontario needs more information about temporary foreign workers.
16. Protections for temporary foreign workers should be strengthened to prevent abuse and unsafe working conditions.
17. The issue of undocumented workers should be addressed by both the governments of Ontario and Canada.
18. The Government of Canada should maintain and strengthen the Live-In Caregiver Program.
19. Ontario should attract and retain more international entrepreneurs.
20. The Government of Ontario should develop a marketing and promotion strategy to attract immigrants with high levels of human capital to the province.
Settlement and Integration
21. A one-window, client-centred, "no wrong door" approach should be developed for all government services important to immigrants.
22. Pre-arrival information and services should be expanded.
23. Programs that target immigrants' networks to enable the effective integration of new immigrants --particularly family, friends, and faith groups-- should be supported in Ontario.
24. Criteria for accessing settlement and integration programs should be coordinated across funders and service providers to ensure that temporary foreign workers, foreign students, refugee claimants, and new Canadian citizens can access these services.
25. Mentorship, internship, and bridge training programs should be expanded in Ontario.
26. Settlement and integration services should be measured and assessed based on immigrant outcomes.
27. Employers and communities need to be champions in the integration of immigrants.
28. Federal and Ontario government supports for refugees should reflect the need to provide longer-term services to many within this group.
29. The Government of Canada should continue to honour its traditional commitment to refugee claimants, including continuing to fund the Interim Federal Health Program.
Foreign Qualification Recognition
30. The Ontario government should continue to work with professional regulatory bodies to improve the assessment and recognition of immigrants' qualifications, including academic credentials, practical training, and experience.
31. The Government of Ontario should ensure that aggrieved applicants for licensure have appropriate recourse.
32. The federal and Ontario governments should work together to ensure that the new federal credential and language assessment system is aligned with licensing bodies and not misconstrued as licensure.