CIMM - Opening Remarks for The Honourable Marco E. L. Mendicino, P.C., M.P. Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship - Mar 10, 2021

House of Commons Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration (CIMM)

Temporary Foreign Workers/LMIA, Hong Kong

March 10, 2021

790 words (5-6 minutes)

Thank you Madame Chair and to members of the Committee for asking me to join you.

I’d like to acknowledge that I’m joining you from the traditional unceded territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit and the Haudenosaunee (TORONTO)/the Algonquin Anishnaabeg people (OTTAWA).

Following my discussions today I know you will also speak with some of my officials.

I will discuss later about our initiatives regarding Hong Kong residents, but first, I’m pleased to address the Committee’s study of Labour Market Impact Assessments, as it relates to temporary foreign workers and our immigration system.

As you may know, the Temporary Foreign Worker Program is a demand-driven/employer-requested program that seeks to help Canadian employers access foreign workers to fill labour gaps. It features several streams, including one for the agriculture sector.

To hire through the TFW Program, an employer must first apply for a Labour Market Impact Assessment, which is a key tool to protect Canadians’ access to the labour market by ensuring that employers have made reasonable efforts to recruit and hire Canadian workers before trying to hire foreign nationals.

As our colleagues from Employment and Social Development Canada can explain, ESDC manages the assessment and issues decisions on LMIA applications.

IRCC’s role is to issue a work permit. This requires that we receive proof of an employer’s positive or neutral LMIA, which foreign nationals must submit to us as part of their work permit application to enter Canada through the TFW program.

Canada’s other foreign national work program, the International Mobility Program, is different. It is solely the responsibility of IRCC and its primary goal is to advance Canada’s broad economic, cultural and national interests, rather than to help fill particular jobs that are in-demand.

These workers are exempt from the LMIA process, and include, for example, post-graduate work permit holders, youth on working holiday, spouses of temporary residents.

Madame Chair, I hope this provides some context about temporary residents and our efforts to ensure job opportunities for Canadian workers.

Turning now to Hong Kong, and in light of the recommendations made recently by the Special Committee on Canada-China Relations, the Committee may have questions for me regarding pathways that Hong Kong residents can use to come to Canada, either temporarily or permanently.

The measures that I announced in November represent a significant expansion of the opportunities for Hong Kong residents – including those who may be concerned about the evolving situation there – to choose Canada as a place to study, work, and settle.

In addition to Canada’s existing pathways that are already available to Hong Kong residents – including those for economic migration and family reunification – the Department has introduced a new temporary residence initiative for Hong Kong youth.

This new program provides open work permits of up to three (3) years to those who have completed a degree or diploma from a designated Canadian post-secondary institution in the last five (5) years, or the equivalent credential from a learning institution abroad.

Applications for the new open work permit opened this past February 8.

And I should add that under this initiative, eligible spouses, common-law partners and dependent children, can also apply for work or study permits.

In addition Madame Chair, the Department is creating two new pathways to permanent residence, available later this year.

The first will target former Hong Kong residents who have gained a minimum of 1 year of authorized work experience in Canada and meet other criteria, such as minimum language and education levels.

The second will allow those who have graduated from a post-secondary institution in Canada to apply directly for permanent residence.

I want to reassure the Committee that no Hong Kong resident will be automatically barred from entering Canada solely because of a charge or conviction under the National Security Law.

Peaceful protest is not considered an offence in Canada and would not be grounds for inadmissibility, and as such, Hong Kong residents at risk of persecution and who have fled to another country may be eligible under Canada’s existing resettlement programs.

This includes the Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program and the Government-Assisted Refugees Program, and like all foreign nationals who are in Canada, Hong Kong residents also have access to the asylum system.

Madame Chair, these actions complement actions being taken by Canada’s international partners, in response to China’s imposition and implementation of the national security law on Hong Kong.

I am confident that these initiatives build on Canada’s existing immigration programs.

And once restrictions to travel are reduced, they will help to attract international students and skilled workers from Hong Kong, support our economic growth, and provide solutions for residents who no longer feel safe there.

Thank you Madame Chair. I would now be happy to answer any questions you may have.

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