To a great extent, the Canadian economy relies on immigrant workers. Immigrants fill many of the essential roles that keep our country afloat – from hospital aids to farm hands. The contribution that immigrants make to virtually every aspect of Canadian life has become particularly evident during the pandemic.
However, it may come as a surprise to some that a high percentage of these essential workers only live in this country on temporary visas. As a new study out of Toronto’s Ryerson University shows, the lack of stability for this sector of the workforce could be hurting the country as a whole.
Researchers conducted a study examining the massive contribution that so-called “low-skilled” immigrant workers – i.e., workers without a higher education degree – play in the Canadian economy. This subset of the population provides many critical services to Canadians. They are integral in providing:
- Childcare and family services
- Construction services
- Health care
- Food service
- Social services
The study found that the demand for these services – and these low-skilled workers – is expected to surge in the coming decade, especially as more baby boomers become ready to retire. The researchers concluded that the Canadian government should do more to give low-skilled workers the opportunity to become permanent residents in Canada.
Each year, Canada accepts around 600,000 temporary workers to come to Canada to fill short-term or seasonal employment opportunities. The vast majority of these workers fall into the low-skilled category. However, it is the high-skilled temporary workers who have historically received more opportunities to become permanent residents.
Nonetheless, the Canadian government has made available some pathways for low-skilled workers to gain permanent residency. These include the following:
- Between now and November 5, 2021, temporary workers in health care and other essential occupations can apply for permanent residency under a special public policy.
- For residents in the Vancouver area, the British Columbia Provincial Nominee Program provides opportunities to apply for permanent residence.
- Other provinces have similar programs, including the In-Demand Skills Stream in Ontario, and the Atlantic Immigration Pilot for residents in eastern provinces.
If you are a temporary worker who would like to make Canada your permanent home, now may be a good time to explore these – and other – options available to you. Consulting with an immigration lawyer about your possibilities is a good first step.