Canada expands pilot to help more skilled refugees build their careers in Canada, giving employers access to a new pool of talent
December 13, 2022—Ottawa—Canada is an international leader in refugee resettlement and integration, having resettled more refugees than any other country in the world last year. As the world faces the worst global refugee crisis in recent history, more needs to be done. This is why Canada is pioneering the development of labour complementary pathways, in addition to traditional resettlement, for refugees and their families to find a safe and permanent solution.
On the occasion of the partners meeting in Ottawa, the Honourable Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, announced today new funding for partner organizations to help expand Canada’s Economic Mobility Pathways Pilot (EMPP) to more skilled refugees. Over the next few years, Canada is aiming to work with employers and communities across the country to expand the pilot and welcome 2,000 skilled refugees to fill specific labour shortages in high-demand sectors, such as health care, skilled trades and information technology.
Through the EMPP, partner organizations help skilled refugees overseas connect with employers who need to fill critical labour shortages in occupations like nurse aides and personal support workers, chefs and cooks, and skilled tradespeople. Once candidates receive a job offer, they can apply to immigrate to Canada through existing economic programs, using EMPP measures that remove barriers refugees may experience due to their displacement.
To make it easier for qualified candidates to apply, Canada is rolling out a new and more flexible process with its trusted partners. Partners—including Talent Beyond Boundaries, TalentLift and Jumpstart Refugee Talent—will be able to directly refer and support candidates. To help them with this new role, trusted partners will receive mandatory training and go through quality assurance reviews.
In addition, Canada is providing $6.2 million to support 6 projects by EMPP partner organizations. These projects will build the capacity of these organizations in key areas, including identifying qualified candidates overseas, and supporting candidates and employers throughout the interview, hiring, and immigration processes. Funding will also support the work of a partner organization that helps EMPP newcomers with affordable microloans.
As the inaugural chair of the Global Task Force on Refugee Labour Mobility, Canada is helping build momentum to expand complementary labour pathways, both in Canada and around the world.
“Resettlement provides refugees with the opportunity to live in safety and rebuild their lives, but it shouldn’t mean their career experience gets overlooked in the process. Through this groundbreaking program, our government is highlighting skilled refugees’ professional achievements by allowing them to continue their career in Canada, while giving employers access to a pool of global talent. Several employers, such as Glen Haven Manor, have pioneered and championed this program from its inception, and I look forward to others across the country following their lead.”
– The Honourable Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship
“Refugees have skills and talents that are desperately needed in the Canadian labour market—from personal care workers to skilled tradespeople to software engineers. As an authorized referral partner under the EMPP, Talent Beyond Boundaries will continue working hard with our government and other partners to make it easier for skilled refugees to apply and faster for Canadian employers to hire, ultimately increasing the number of refugees relocating to Canada overall.”
– Lara Dyer, Canada Director, Talent Beyond Boundaries
“Talented people in displacement need the same access to job and skilled visa opportunities as talent from any other background. This is about equity and supporting people to reach their potential, while creating enormous value for our teams and communities. Canada is taking important steps to build a more inclusive, skilled immigration system. Our next challenge is scaling this solution for hiring teams and displaced job seekers who have needed skills plus incredible perseverance, adaptability and ingenuity. To all hiring managers: these are folks you want on your team. Start hiring with us and meet them.”
– Dana Wagner, Co-Founder and Managing Director, TalentLift
“The Canadian economy is experiencing chronic talent shortages across multiple sectors. Meanwhile, millions of refugees around the world are seeking durable solutions to secure better lives for their families. In partnership with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, Jumpstart is supporting employers across Canada in hiring and relocating people from displaced populations. Jumpstart is thrilled to be an EMPP trusted partner as that will help scale the program and relocate more refugees to Canada.”
– Bassel Ramli, Co-Founder and Global Programs Director, Jumpstart Refugee Talent
According to the Global Trends Report 2021 from the United Nations Refugee Agency, Canada resettled more refugees than any other country in the world that year, with over 20,400 refugees finding a permanent, safe home.
To complement Canada’s resettlement efforts, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) launched the EMPP as a small research project in 2018. Phase 1 proved that, with some targeted help, there are skilled refugees who can meet existing economic immigration program criteria and who potentially represent an untapped talent pool.
Phase 2 is now underway. During this second phase of the pilot, IRCC is aiming to settle up to 500 refugees and their families. Lessons learned will help IRCC and its partner organizations further expand the EMPP to welcome even greater numbers of skilled refugees.
This new phase of the EMPP makes it easier for refugees to apply for permanent residence. EMPP facilitation measures include waiving some fees, making it easier to prove their work experience, and letting them use loans to fund travel costs, settlement needs, start-up costs and fees that cannot be waived. In most cases, IRCC processes applications within 6 months.
As of October 2022, Canada has already welcomed over 100 skilled refugees and their family members under the EMPP.
Based on its success with the EMPP, Canada helped launch the Global Task Force on Refugee Labour Mobility in April 2022. As chair of the task force for 2 years, Canada is working closely with a wide range of global partners and stakeholders, as well as refugees with lived experience and expertise, to lay the foundation for implementing these innovative solutions worldwide.
The 8 founding members of the task force include Canada, Australia, the United Nations Refugee Agency, the International Organization for Migration, the International Chamber of Commerce, Fragomen, Talent Beyond Boundaries and RefugePoint.
Contacts for media only:
Bahoz Dara Aziz
Minister’s Office, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada
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