Evaluation of the Canadian Experience Class: Performance - Effectiveness

4 Performance - Effectiveness

This section addresses the awareness of the CEC, application and admission trends, the impact of the CEC on the supply of skilled workers, as well as the economic and social integration of CEC permanent residents in Canada to determine the extent to which each of these expected outcomes were achieved. Refer to the program logic model in Appendix B.

4.1 Awareness of the CEC

Finding: Stakeholders are sufficiently aware of the CEC. Over the years, activities have been undertaken by CIC, as well as by employment, education, and immigration stakeholders, to promote CEC requirements and encourage uptake.

The evaluation first considered the degree of awareness of the CEC as an initial step to program uptake. Overall, CIC and partner interviewees believed stakeholders to be sufficiently aware of the CEC, although it was suggested that awareness might be lower among smaller employers, employer organizations, or educational institutions. In addition, nearly all educational institutions surveyed indicated that they were aware of the CEC prior to taking the survey, and the majority of employers surveyed felt they knew enough about the program to recruit a foreign worker, in many cases because they had done so. The CIC website was the most commonly reported way that different stakeholders surveyed had learned about the program, representing 39.5% of educational institutions who had reported being aware of the CEC, nearly a third of the employers, and 58.3% of CEC PAs.

As program awareness depends in part on how information on the program is communicated, the level of promotion of the CEC was also examined in the evaluation. Promotion of the CEC has been done both by CIC and by partners and stakeholders, with CIC efforts including the publication of some backgrounders and news releases on the departmental website, as well as outreach efforts through engagements at events, organized primarily by universities. In 2013, CIC also advertised the CEC in selected university campus newsletters and sent letters promoting the program to university heads and international student centres. Promotion undertaken by partners and stakeholders have included efforts to promote the CEC as part of the international promotion of education in Canada, led by the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD)Footnote 31, as well as various efforts undertaken by provincial government, education, employment and immigration stakeholders (described in more detail in the Extended Evaluation Report).

When asked about current efforts to promote the CEC, CIC interviewees were generally uncertain what efforts were currently underway, or if additional efforts were required. However, provincial government representatives and external stakeholders noted that CIC could usefully increase outreach and engagement efforts for the CEC. In 2012, the DFATD International Education Strategy recommended the expansion and promotion of CEC to attract and retain skilled international students.Footnote 32

4.2 CEC Application and Admission Trends

4.2.1 Trends in Applications

Finding: Uptake for the CEC was initially lower than anticipated, but increased over time, reflecting the natural growth of a new program, until intake was capped in 2013. While more applications were initially received under the student stream, the number of applications under the worker stream increased over time to represent about half of the overall intake by 2012.

Program uptake was considered in relation to the number of applications received under the CEC. As shown in Figure 4.1, the number of applications received under the CEC grew over time, until a cap on the number of applications was introduced on November 9, 2013 through Ministerial Instructions, which set an annual cap of 12,000 on the number of applications that would be considered for processing.Footnote 33 Footnote 34

Figure 4.1: Number of CEC Applications Received by Year and Stream
Described below
Figure 4.1: Number of CEC Applications Received by Year and Stream
Year Worker stream Student stream Merged programFootnote * Application Cap Total
2008 174 573 - - 747
2009 1,906 2,723 - - 4,629
2010 2,093 2,814 - - 4,907
2011 3,101 3,440 - - 6,541
2012 4,194 4,003 - - 8,197
2013 - - 15,284 - 15,284
2014 - - 13,285 12,000 11,765
Total 11,468 13,553 27,049 - 52,070

Source: GCMS and FOSS

Most applications initially received were made under the student stream (representing 76.7% of applications made in 2008), but the proportion of applications submitted under the worker stream gradually increased over time to represent half of the CEC applications in 2012. Applications received in 2013 and 2014 were made under the new program requirements, which no longer distinguished between student and worker applications, eliminating the two streams. However, further analysis showed that 47.3% of applicants after the 2013 program changes had previous study permits, suggesting that international graduates are continuing to apply under the new program requirements.

In terms of an explanation for the pattern in uptake over time, it was noted in the interviews that gradual growth was to be expected with a new program. It was suggested in the interviews with CIC representatives that the growth may have been due to word-of-mouth communications and increased knowledge of the CEC by immigration representatives, while it was noted in the interviews with CIC representatives and immigration stakeholders that changes to other economic immigration programs, such as changes to the FSW program which restricted application intake, may have diverted applicants to the CEC. In the interviews with immigration stakeholders, it was also suggested that it may have taken some time for representatives to become familiar with the program, as well as for potential clients to become eligible to apply.

4.2.2 Trends in Admissions

Finding: Annual admissions under the CEC generally increased over time, with over 50,000 individuals admitted under the program between 2009 and 2014.

A target number for CEC admissions is set each year through the Department’s Annual Report to Parliament on Immigration. Table 4.1 shows the number of immigrants admitted under the CEC by year, and compares that to the target admission ranges provided in CIC’s Annual Reports to Parliament on Immigration. Consistent with application trends, the number of individuals admitted as permanent residents grew over time, from 2,545 admissions in 2009 to 23,767 in 2014.

Table 4.1: Number of CEC Immigrants (Principal Applicants, Spouses and Dependants) Admitted (2009-2014)
Targeted number of admissions
Year Range low Range high
2009 5,000 7,000
2010Footnote *†  2,670 2,856
2011 6,000 7,000
2012 6,000 7,000
2013 9,600 10,000
2014 14,000 15,000
Annual admissions
Year Worker stream Student stream Merged program Total admissions
2009 1,080 1,465 0 2,545
2010Footnote *†  2,161 1,756 0 3,917
2011 3,219 2,807 0 6,026
2012 5,556 3,803 0 9,359
2013 4,343 2,537 336 7,216
2014 2,227 913 20,627 23,767
Total 26,748 13,392 12,690 52,830

Source: Targets data from Annual Reports to Parliament on Immigration; admissions data from GCMS and FOSS.

The admissions target ranges do not align well with the flow of admissions. Between 2009 and 2013, the number of admissions under the CEC was only within the target ranges in 2011. The number of admissions was well below the targeted number of admissions for two of the five years the CEC has been delivered (2009 and 2013), while it exceeded the high end of the range in two other years (2010 and 2012). The 2010 Annual Report to Parliament on Immigration noted that the number of applications received was too low to achieve initially planned targets for the new CEC, and that the Department was taking steps to promote awareness of this class to potential applicants.Footnote 35

In 2014, the number admitted was well above the range high, or more than triple the number of admissions in 2013. The increase in admissions is consistent with the increase in application intake in the 2013, which can be attributed, in part, to changes to program regulations in January 2013, which decreased the amount of work experience required to qualify under the CEC. The increase in uptake and corresponding resources is further discussed in section 5.1.

4.3 Impact of CEC on the Supply of Skilled Workers

Finding: The CEC has contributed to Canada’s supply of skilled workers with Canadian work experience.

One of the objectives of the CEC is to increase the supply of skilled workers in Canada. Between 2009 and 2014, the CEC admitted a total of 32,676 PAs, 99.4% of whom were skilled workers intending to work in NOC 0, A and B occupations.Footnote 36 The NOC skill level B represented slightly over half (51.9%) of CEC admissions, with a greater percentage of CEC PAs admitted under the student stream (56.7%) than under the worker stream (40.2%) intending to work at this skill level (Table 4.2).

Table 4.2: Percentage of Principal Applicants Admitted (2009-2014) by NOC Level of Intended Occupation and Immigration Category
NOC Level CEC worker stream CEC student stream CEC merged program CEC overall FSW PNP
0 17.4% 7.2% 9.9% 11.1% 21.6% 10.5%
A 42.0% 35.0% 33.8% 36.5% 57.0% 23.0%
B 40.2% 56.7% 55.9% 51.9% 20.8% 37.7%
C - - - - - 17.0%
D - - - - - 11.9%
C & D 0.4% 1.1% 0.4% 0.6% 0.6% -

Note: percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding.

Source: GCMS and FOSS

For the three economic programs considered, the skill level distribution of CEC PAs fell between that of PAs admitted under the FSW and the Provincial Nominee (PN) programs. Relative to the CEC distribution, a greater percentage of FSW PAs were intending to work in occupations requiring university education (NOC skill level A - 57.0%) or a management occupation (NOC skill level 0 - 21.6%), while a greater percentage of PN PAs were intending to work in occupations requiring secondary school and/or occupation-specific training or on the job training (NOC skill level C and D - 28.9%).

The evaluation also explored the extent to which the CEC had increased the number of skilled workers with Canadian work experience, in addition to the numbers already being brought in under the FSW program and the PNP. This analysis found that the combined number of skilled workers with previous Canadian work experience admitted through the FSW program and the PNP has generally increased over the years (from 3,068 in 2004 to 11,972 in 2014), as has the number of CEC admissions since 2009 (from 1,575 in 2009 to 13,360 in 2014), showing an overall increase in the number of skilled workers with previous Canadian work experience partly attributable to the CEC.

In order to better understand how CEC PAs obtained this Canadian work experience, the evaluation examined the previous work permits held by CEC PAs admitted to Canada intending to work in NOC 0, A, and B occupations. This analysis found that approximately a quarter (26.2%) had had a previous work permit (for work purposes) supported by a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), while 67.0% had had a work permit through the IMPs.

4.4 Economic Establishment

The economic outcomes of CEC PAs were examined in relation to incidence of employment and the quality of this employment, specifically, the degree to which it was commensurate with their education/training and expertise, as well as employment earnings. Difficulties in obtaining employment, as well as the incidence of social assistance, were also considered. Two main methods were used to assess economic outcomes: the IMDB, which provided general information on employment for the population of CEC tax filers, and the survey of CEC PAs, which provided more in-depth information about employment history for a sample of the CEC population.Footnote 37 Footnote 38

4.4.1 Incidence of Employment and Reliance on Social Assistance

Finding: CEC principal applicants are establishing economically in Canada, and are accessing the labour market quickly, with almost no reliance on social assistance.

Employment

Analysis of IMDB data showed a high incidence of employment among CEC PAs during their first three years in Canada as permanent residentsFootnote 39, with 92.7% already employed during their landing year. Slight differences were observed between the CEC streams, with those admitted under the worker stream having a higher incidence of employment (compared to the student stream) during this timeframe. When compared to the PNP and the FSW program, the incidence of employment for those admitted under the CEC was similar to that observed in the PNP, but higher than that of the FSW program, with a difference remaining of about 10 percentage points three years after admission (see Table 4.3).

Table 4.3: Percentage of Immigrant Tax Filers who Declared Employment Earnings by Years since Admission and Immigration Category (2009 to 2012)
Immigration category Landing year 1 year 2 years 3 years
Worker stream 93.7% 92.3% 91.1% 88.9%
Student stream 92.0% 88.4% 87.0% 86.3%
CEC 92.7% 89.9% 88.5% 87.1%
FSWs 61.0% 74.0% 75.9% 77.2%
PNs 83.7% 88.5% 87.4% 86.8%

Note: Principal applicants only.

Source: IMDB 2012

Survey findings were consistent with IMDB evidence. They showed that 75.0% of CEC PAs surveyed were employed within the same month that they became permanent residents, suggesting that most transition to permanent residence in the same job they have as temporary residents.Footnote 40 Furthermore, 85.0% reported being employed by the end of their first year in Canada as permanent residents, and this rate of employment was relatively stable during the four-year timeframe under observation.

Social Assistance and Difficulties Finding a Job in Canada

Incidence of social assistance benefits was also explored to identify any challenges with the economic establishment of CEC PAs. The analysis of IMDB data showed almost no reliance on social assistance among CEC PAs, with less than 0.5% reporting receipt of these benefits during their first three years in Canada as permanent residents. Comparatively, a slightly higher proportion of PAs admitted as FSWs (ranging from 2.5% to 3.5%) and PNs (ranging from 1.0% to 1.6%) reported receiving social assistance benefits during their first three years in Canada as permanent residents.

Survey results also showed that most CEC PAs (85.2%) did not experience difficulties in finding a job since becoming permanent residents. Only 14.8% indicated some difficulty, and many were CEC PAs under the student stream (67.3%). The most frequently reported difficulties included lack of employment opportunities in general (40.7%), not having enough job experience (27.3%) and not being able to find a job in their field (27.3%).

4.4.2 Commensurate Employment

Finding: Most CEC principal applicants are able to secure employment that is commensurate with their education, training and expertise.

Commensurate employment was first considered by comparing the level of education attained by CEC PAs to the level of education usually required by their jobs (as per the NOC code).Footnote 41 This analysis found that about 76% of the CEC PAs surveyed had a job commensurate with their level of education. Differences were observed by CEC stream, with more PAs admitted under the worker stream (about 86%) being employed in jobs commensurate with their education, compared to those admitted under the student stream (about 69%). These rates were found to be relatively stable over the first four years in Canada following admission (see Table 4.4).

Table 4.4: Percentage of CEC PAs Surveyed Employed in a Job Commensurate with their Education by Stream and Months since Admission
Comparison of education level of PA to job requirements 0 months 6 months 12 months 24 months 36 months 48 months
CEC overall 75.5% 76.0% 76.1% 76.9% 77.6% 74.3%
Worker stream 86.7% 86.2% 85.3% 87.0% 87.8% 83.7%
Student stream 66.5% 67.4% 68.7% 69.2% 70.6% 68.8%

Source: Survey of CEC PAs

The self-assessed employment situation of CEC PAs was also assessed, revealing an even more positive picture. When the self-assessments of respondents were considered,Footnote 42 about 91% of CEC PAs surveyed indicated that their jobs required the same or a higher level of education/training and expertise than they possessed, and about 94% indicated that their job was completely or somewhat related to their field of education/training and expertise. No significant differences were found between the CEC streams for the self-assessed measures considered (see Table 4.5).

Table 4.5: Percentage of CEC PAs Surveyed in a Job Commensurate with their Level and Field of Education/Training and Expertise by Stream and Months since Admission
Job required same or higher level of education/ training and expertise as possessed by PA
Self-assessments 0 months 6 months 12 months 24 months 36 months 48 months
CEC overall 89.2% 89.3% 88.5% 91.3% 92.0% 93.5%
Worker stream 90.7% 91.6% 90.7% 92.4% 91.8% 95.7%
Student stream 87.8% 86.9% 86.7% 90.5% 92.2% 92.2%

Source: Survey of CEC Pas

Job related to field of education/training and expertise of PA
Self-assessments 0 months 6 months 12 months 24 months 36 months 48 months
CEC overall 94.5% 94.2% 93.1% 94.3% 93.8% 93.9%
Worker stream 94.3% 94.7% 93.8% 93.8% 91.2% 92.5%
Student stream 94.8% 93.8% 92.5% 94.7% 95.5% 94.8%

Source: Survey of CEC PAs

Therefore, rather than a clear mismatch between occupations and skill levels, these findings, considered together, suggest that CEC PAs admitted under the student stream may be at a different stage in their careers than those admitted under the worker stream. While some individuals under the student stream have obtained jobs that are objectively below their education level, this may be a situation that they intended, or at least accept, given that they are likely just entering the labour market.

Correspondingly, CIC administrative data showed that CEC PAs admitted under the student stream tended to be younger than those admitted under the worker stream. Most (96.1%) admitted under the students stream were 35 years of age or less at admission, compared to 57.4% of those admitted under the worker stream. Furthermore, survey results showed that CEC PAs admitted under the student stream tended to have less work experience than those admitted under the worker stream prior to becoming permanent residents. On average, CEC PAs admitted under the student stream had 3.5 years of overseas and 2.3 years of in-Canada work experience, compared to 10.7 years of overseas and 4.2 years of in-Canada work experience for those admitted under the worker stream. In this light, it may be appropriate that some CEC PAs admitted under the student stream have obtained jobs below their education level, given their age and the stage of their career, and thus education level for them becomes more a measure of their skill potential in the future as they progress in their careers.Footnote 43

4.4.3 Earnings

Finding: In the first three years following admission to Canada, employment earnings of principal applicants admitted under the CEC are higher, on average, than earnings for those under the FSW and PN programs. While average earnings are higher for CEC PAs admitted under the worker stream compared to those admitted under the student stream, these differences are attributable to the characteristics (e.g., skill level, education, work experience) of individuals within these streams.

Employment earnings were considered to further assess the extent to which CEC PAs were establishing economically in Canada. On average, CEC PAs reported over $60,000 in employment earnings in each of the first three years following their admission as permanent residents, with those admitted under the worker stream earning over two times more than those admitted under the student stream.Footnote 44 In addition, CEC PAs earned, on average, more than their economic immigrant counterparts admitted under the PN and FSW programs, although the gap in earnings diminished over time (see Table 4.6).

Table 4.6: Average Employment Earnings of Immigrant Tax Filers by Years since Admission and Immigration Category (2009 to 2012)
Category Landing year 1 year 2 years 3 years
Worker stream $92,000 $99,000 $111,000 $95,000
Student stream $39,000 $42,000 $45,000 $47,000
CEC $62,000 $65,000 $70,000 $62,000
FSWs $29,000 $39,000 $46,000 $51,000
PNs $41,000 $46,000 $50,000 $54,000

Note: Principal applicants only.

Source: IMDB 2012

Subsequent regression analyses of the survey data further clarified the differences in earnings between CEC PAs admitted under the student and worker streams. Results showed that the difference in earnings between the student and worker streams for the CEC PAs surveyed was largely attributable to differences in: (1) the skill level (e.g., NOC 0, A, B) of the employment that they obtained; (2) the amount of overseas and in-Canada work experience that they had accumulated; (3) their education level; and (4) their age composition.Footnote 45 Once these factors were introduced into the analysis, the difference in earnings between the two CEC streams no longer remained significant.

Regression results showed that higher earnings were significantly associated with:

  • NOC 0 and A occupations (when compared to NOC C and D occupations);Footnote 46
  • Having more overseas work experience prior to becoming a permanent resident;
  • Having more Canadian work experience prior to becoming a permanent resident;
  • Having a university-level education; and
  • Being somewhat older (between 36 and 45 years of age).Footnote 47

While these effects on earnings were significant for most factors throughout the two-year period considered in the analysis, the effects associated with work experience were only significant during the first year following admission as a permanent resident in Canada. Although overseas and in-Canada experience were both positively associated with earnings within the first year as a permanent resident, regression results showed a higher return on the years of Canadian work experience accumulated compared to the overseas work experience.

4.5 Social Integration

Finding: In general, principal applicants under the CEC are integrating socially and are satisfied with their lives in Canada.

The evaluation also examined the social integration of CEC PAs to better understand how the Canadian experience, accumulated as temporary residents, either as foreign workers or international students, had contributed to their integration into Canadian society.

4.5.1 Adjustment to Life in Canada

Most CEC PAs surveyed indicated that their previous experience in Canada as temporary residents had contributed to the social networks they had established in Canada through work (80.2%) and outside of work (77.7%), to adjusting to life in Canada (85.8%) and to feeling a sense of belonging to the country (85.6%). In addition, a little under half (48%) of CEC PAs surveyed indicated that they had not experienced any difficulties since becoming permanent residents. This proportion was consistent for both CEC streams. Of those who identified difficulties, missing social or family support was the most frequently reported difficulty (31.1%), followed by finding an "adequate" job (23.8%).Footnote 48

Findings from the survey of CEC PAs were consistent with results from the other surveys of educational institutions and employers, as well as the interviews. Many educational institutions surveyed felt that it may be easier for international students (compared to other skilled workers who did not study in Canada) to settle economically and socially in Canada, and most employers surveyed indicated that CEC employees adapted well to their work environment. It was also noted in the interviews that CEC PRs would have already faced integration challenges while they were temporary residents, and that their previous experience as temporary residents would have been beneficial.

Overall, when asked to reflect on their lives in Canada, most CEC PAs surveyed (79.2%) indicated that they were satisfied with how their life was progressing in Canada, and the vast majority (97.9%) indicated that if they had to make the decision again, they would become a permanent resident of Canada.

4.5.2 Use of CIC Settlement Services

An analysis of data from CIC’s iCAMS and iCARE systems showed that most (92.2%) CEC PAs had not accessed CIC settlement services after becoming permanent residents, further supporting the notion that previous experience in Canada may help ease integration once admitted as a permanent resident. Moreover, compared to other economic immigrants, CEC PAs accessed settlement services the least frequently. Only 7.8% of CEC PAs had used settlement services, compared to 31.0% of PN PAs and 44.7% of FSW PAs.

Of the CEC PAs who had accessed CIC settlement services, the most frequently used types of services were needs assessment and referral services (77.6%), and information and orientation services (76.9%). A much smaller proportion accessed services either related to language (assessment and/or training) (22.9%) or employment (short-term and/or long-term) (20.5%). In contrast, 47.3% of FSW PAs and 57.5% of PN PAs had accessed services related to language, while 52.9% of FSW PAs and 25.7% of PN PAs had accessed services related to employment.

Therefore, few CEC PAs were accessing settlement services, but when they did, they did not tend to rely heavily on services related to employment or language. These findings suggest that the CEC eligibility criteria (Canadian work experience and official language capacity) are successful in selecting people who settle easily in Canada, and do not need very much settlement assistance.

4.6 Interprovincial Mobility, Intentions to Stay and Canadian Citizenship

Finding: Almost all principal applicants under the CEC stay in their province of intended destination and there is an indication that most intend to stay in Canada and obtain citizenship.

The CEC aims to not only attract, but also retain skilled workers in Canada. Although too early in the life of the CEC to measure out-migration from Canada, retention was explored through an assessment of the interprovincial mobility of CEC PAs within Canada using the IMDB, as well as through an analysis of survey data on the intentions of CEC PAs in relation to their continued residence in Canada and citizenship acquisition.

4.6.1 Interprovincial Mobility

The analysis of interprovincial mobility compared CEC PAs’ intended province of destination at landing (where they intended to establish) to their province of residence (where they resided) in 2012. The analysis showed that 95% of CEC PAs were residing in their province of intended destination in 2012, with no differences between the CEC streams. Retention rates were however found to vary by province. While Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia had retention rates of about 95% for CEC PAs, retention was lower in the Atlantic (75.6%), as well as in Manitoba and Saskatchewan (76.7%).

Although most were residing in their province of intended destination in 2012, the retention rates for PAs admitted under the FSW program and the PNP (87.6% and 88.8% respectively) were lower compared to the retention rate for PAs admitted under the CEC.

4.6.2 Intentions to Stay in Canada and Obtain Citizenship

To further assess whether CEC PAs are likely to remain in Canada, the survey of CEC PAs asked respondents about their plans to remain in Canada. Survey results indicated that 88.5% of CEC PAs intended to stay in Canada with no intentions of leaving, while 3.0% intended to live in Canada for some time and then return to their home country, about 1% were intending to move to another country and 7.5% did not know their plans. No significant differences were found between CEC streams in terms of intentions of staying in Canada.

Citizenship acquisition was also examined in the survey of CEC PAs to assess their plans to stay in Canada, and found that that 87% of CEC PAs surveyed had obtained, applied or intended to apply for Canadian citizenship. The most common reason given by those not intending to apply for Canadian citizenship was that their current country of citizenship did not allow for dual citizenship. No significant differences were found between the CEC streams in terms of citizenship acquisition.

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