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Ahmed Hussen, Canada’s Minister of Immigration, wants to welcome more refugees to Canada through economic immigration pathways.
Minister Hussen made the statement during remarks on World Refugee Day on June 20, then again in an interview with BNN Bloomberg.
Canada manages a significant refugee resettlement program with plans to welcome 46,450 refugees in 2019 through a mixture of government and private sponsorship programs, totaling 14 percent (or around one-in-seven) of Canada’s targets for new permanent residents. However, Minister Hussen hopes that he can give refugees better access to Canada’s economic immigration pathways, which account for close to 60 percent of Canada’s 2019 target for new permanent residents.
Minister Hussen is interested in examining how Canada’s economic immigration pathways create barriers for refugees. “Refugees are not a monolithic group.” Hussen said.
“They are people who have diverse sets of skills and talents and they’ve just had an event or circumstance that has made them become displaced.”
Hussen recommends ensuring that Canadian immigration systems are able to recognize the economic potential of refugees by allowing them to compete in skilled immigration streams.
The Economic Mobilities Pathway Project
Through a recent initiative, the Economic Mobilities Pathway Project, the Canadian government has been researching the ability for refugees to access economic immigration streams. The project was launched in 2018 by a US-based NGO called Talent Beyond Boundaries in order to “to test refugee access to federal and provincial economic pathways, to identify barriers, and to develop solutions.”
The new project does not create a new immigration pathway, but rather examines the current pathways for economic immigration in order to see which barriers refugees face when considering economic immigration.
Through the research and analysis of the program, a handful of refugees have discovered their eligibility for economic immigration to Canada and have successfully completed the application process. The Economic Mobilities Pathway Project is funded in part by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and is also supported by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
Canada’s economic immigration programs prioritize skilled workers who can demonstrate they have the ability to fill gaps in Canada’s labour force. Express Entry is Canada’s major system for managing skilled worker immigration applications, using a points-based system to rank candidates against one another, only inviting the highest ranking candidates to apply for immigration.
The Economic Mobilities Pathway Project will not change current economic programs, but will simply analyze the capacity for refugees to apply through economic programs, such as those that come under Express Entry and the Provincial Nominee Program. Minister Hussen hopes that this will enable more refugees to come to Canada and apply their talents in the workforce.
As for Canada’s existing immigration pathways for refugees: “Those will continue.” Hussen stated, “And those are based on vulnerability.” The minister made it clear that economic immigration options for refugees would be a bonus, not a replacement.
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