Speaking Notes for the Honourable Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship: Announcement on the new pathway to permanent residency

Speech

Announcement on the new pathway to permanent residency
Virtual, Ontario
May 5, 2021

As delivered

Good afternoon and as we begin, I would like to acknowledge that I am joining you virtually from the traditional territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit and the Haudenosaunee. I also want to give a special welcome to a few of our guests. We have Dr. Lee from Fraser Health in British Columbia and Ms. Rhose Harris-Galia from the Alberta Health Services. Finally, I want to thank everyone else who is joining us this afternoon and I hope that you are all doing well.

I want to begin with the story of Jennifer Chen. When Jennifer was 25, she immigrated to Canada to take a master’s degree at the University of Manitoba, yet she soon found herself equally passionate about helping others. Jennifer became an activist, founding the Women of Colour Community Leadership Initiative and eventually, getting elected to the Winnipeg School Board among a wide array of other roles. She said, I come from a country that doesn’t have freedom of speech or freedom of assembly. I didn’t know what those freedoms meant. I think for me, coming to Canada really gave me a new life.

When the pandemic struck, Jennifer acted. She founded the From Our Kitchens to Our Heroes initiative, helping Winnipeg’s immigrant-owned restaurants donate meals to healthcare workers across the city. She led sessions bringing together immigrants, Indigenous people, and others to make masks for low-income folks. She spearheaded campaigns to tackle the alarming rise of anti-Asian racism and she even created a walking program, to help newcomers socialize safely while getting exercise. In this pandemic, I really see people’s hearts. Everyone is wanting to help others and that really inspired me to continue to do what I’m doing, she said. Jennifer is simply extraordinary and as Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, my goal is to welcome more Jennifers just like her.

A little under one month ago, we took a big step towards accomplishing that vision. As we fight the pandemic and look towards economic recovery, we must do more for those who’ve done so much. That’s why, on April 14th, I announced the creation of a pathway to permanent residence for up to 90,000 essential workers and recent international student graduates. The size, the speed and the scope of this initiative is unprecedented.

On April 14, I was proud to announce the creation of a new pathway to permanent residency for up to 90,000 essential workers and international graduates. This initiative will help healthcare workers and workers in other essential occupations with temporary status, as well as former international students.

This new pathway includes 20,000 spaces for temporary workers in healthcare. Of course, this includes doctors and nurses but also support staff in long-term care homes, custodians and other vital workers who keep Canadians healthy and safe. It also includes 30,000 spaces for temporary workers in other essential jobs. This encompasses over 100 essential occupations from bricklayers to bus drivers. And finally, it includes 40,000 spaces for recent international graduates and as I’ve said before, international students are ideal candidates for permanent residency, and we don’t just want them to study here; we want them to stay here.

The pandemic is something of a perfect storm and we’ve all felt it. With travel restricted, we’re making the most of the talent that is within our borders and with newcomers planning to do so much and already doing so much, their contributions can no longer be overlooked. These aspiring Canadians have rolled up their sleeves. They’re already hard at work in some of the most important sectors of our economy. By recognizing it, we’re helping them make even greater contributions. They have what they need to thrive, and we want them to stay. When they put down their roots, we all build a stronger Canada. As I said then, this isn’t just about giving people a new piece of paper. We’re creating a pathway for newcomers that will boost their job security, increase their wages, from cashiers to cabinet makers. And we’re creating a pathway to prosperity for all Canadians.

We know that immigration is essential to the vitality of our Francophone communities and that increasing Francophone immigration helps ensure the survival of the French language in Canada. This is why these policies include dedicated spaces for French-speaking or bilingual candidates.

And now, we’re almost ready to open the program for applications. Tomorrow, on May 6th, candidates from across Canada will have the chance to begin applying. We’re also accelerating processing of applications in the system, from family reunification to new permanent residents.

Over the past year, we have come to appreciate the true meaning of the word “essential.” Essential workers have saved lives in our communities and have helped to ensure that Canadian families have continued to have access to necessities.

A glaring truth that’s hit home I think for many Canadians is that the jobs that we have perhaps traditionally called low-skilled are actually essential. From caring for our seniors to putting food on our tables, people have awoken to the reality that these supposedly low-skill jobs are actually anything but. From taking care of our seniors to putting food on our tables, these roles are vital and in the time of the pandemic, they are often lifesaving.

Our front-line workers—whether they are working in our hospitals, taking care of our elderly or helping to put food on our tables—are our guardian angels and saviours.

With this new program, we do more than express our gratitude; we demonstrate it. And equally important, we spur a broader shift in how our country sees these jobs and the people who do them. I hope that a generation from now, Canadians will look back on this moment as a time when we began to better recognize the value of their work and an immigration policy that reflected it.

While much has changed over the past year, one reality remains unchanged, namely, that immigration continues to be essential to Canada’s future.

Much has changed over the past year, but more than ever, immigration is vital to Canada’s short-term recovery and long-term prosperity. What began as temporary changes to keep our economy have blossomed into a wider shift in how we see entry immigration in Canada. This program is a watershed moment. I look forward to seeing the difference that it makes for many years to come. We’re keeping our ship on course to help Canada achieve its full potential and our country can only reach its full potential if everyone here reaches theirs.

Thank you.

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