Evaluation of the Canadian Experience Class

Executive summary

Purpose of the Evaluation

The evaluation of the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) was conducted in fulfilment of the Treasury Board’s Policy on Evaluation. Covering the period from program creation 2008-09 to 2013-14, the evaluation was guided by a program logic model and used multiple lines of evidence to examine the relevance and performance of the program.

Canadian Experience Class

The CEC was introduced in 2008 to help address challenges in the Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) program, as well as to increase Canada’s labour market responsiveness and global competitiveness in attracting and retaining highly skilled workers and international graduates who had demonstrated their ability to integrate into the Canadian labour market. The program was originally comprised of two streams (a student and a worker stream), but underwent regulatory changes in 2013 which harmonized the two streams. Currently, all CEC applicants are required to have 12 months of Canadian work experience, within the 36 months prior to applying, in a National Occupational Classification (NOC) level 0, A or B occupation, as well as meet the language requirements associated with their respective occupational levels.

Evaluation Findings

Relevance

Finding #1: The CEC responds to a need for a simple and quick pathway to permanent residence for skilled workers, and capitalizes on the opportunity to retain those who have already demonstrated an ability to integrate economically in Canada.

Finding #2: The CEC is aligned with CIC and Government of Canada objectives to foster Canada’s economic growth, bridging temporary and permanent immigration objectives.

Finding #3: The CEC is consistent with federal roles and responsibilities in relation to economic immigration, providing a complementary pathway to permanent residence, with a focus on highly skilled workers.

Performance – Effectiveness

Finding #4: 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.

Finding #5: 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.

Finding #6: Annual admissions under the CEC generally increased over time, with over 50,000 individuals admitted under the program between 2009 and 2014.

Finding #7: The CEC has contributed to Canada’s supply of skilled workers with Canadian work experience.

Finding #8: CEC principal applicants are establishing economically in Canada, and are accessing the labour market quickly, with almost no reliance on social assistance.

Finding #9: Most CEC principal applicants are able to secure employment that is commensurate with their education, training and expertise.

Finding #10: 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 Provincial Nominee (PN) programs. While average earnings are higher for CEC Principal Applicants (PA) 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.

Finding #11: In general, principal applicants under the CEC are integrating socially and are satisfied with their lives in Canada.

Finding #12: 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.

Performance – Program Management and Resource Utilization

Finding #13: CEC total program costs have increased over time, corresponding to increasing application intake and processing demands, reflecting growth in the program.

Finding #14: Information, coordination, training and tools adequately support program management and delivery.

Finding #15: There are no significant program integrity issues particular to the CEC. Integrity is supported by the program design, and CIC has been proactive in developing strategies to strengthen program integrity.

Finding #16: The CEC design is streamlined, program delivery is centralized and efficient, and application processing is timely.

Finding #17: The recent introduction of the Express Entry system has changed Canada’s overall approach to economic immigration, including application through the CEC; however, it is too early to assess the impact that this new approach will have on the relevance and performance of the CEC.

Conclusions and Recommendation

Overall, the findings of this evaluation are positive. The CEC has been successful in achieving its intended outcomes, providing a timely pathway to permanent residence for skilled immigrants who are able to successfully integrate in Canada. However, Canada has now changed its overall approach to economic immigration through the introduction of Express Entry. Under Express Entry, CEC program implementation could lead to the selection of CEC candidates with a human capital profile and resulting economic outcomes that are different from those observed in the current evaluation, and thus, may have implications for the continued relevance and performance of the CEC program in the future.

Recommendation: Given that implementation of the CEC program under Express Entry differs from the program approach considered in the current evaluation, it is recommended that CIC monitor the human capital profile of CEC candidates processed under Express Entry, relative to CEC candidates processed prior to its introduction, as well as candidates assigned to the other economic immigration streams under Express Entry, to assess the continued relevance and performance of the CEC.

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