Tackling the labour shortage by helping more skilled refugees and other displaced people build their careers in Canada
March 27, 2023—Toronto—Canada continues to be a global leader in refugee resettlement and labour mobility. By welcoming skilled refugees and other displaced individuals to Canada, the government is helping communities and businesses address labour shortages. Continued improvements to the immigration system will help make it more responsive to Canada’s economic needs and humanitarian commitments.
During a keynote speech to business and sector leaders, NGOs and civil society organizations in Toronto, the Honourable Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, announced that Canada will launch a new economic pathway under the Economic Mobility Pathways Pilot (EMPP) to help employers hire skilled refugees and other displaced individuals.
The EMPP pairs skilled refugees and other qualified displaced individuals with Canadian employers who need to overcome labour shortages in key occupations. This allows Canada to welcome vulnerable people, while giving Canadian employers access to an untapped talent pool from which they can attract and retain employees with the skills they need to help grow our economy.
The Government of Canada is expanding the EMPP by creating a new federal pathway. The new pathway, which will complement existing EMPP pathways, will open this summer.
The new federal pathway will give employers more opportunities to fill a wide range of in-demand jobs, including nurse aides, personal support workers, long-term care aides, software engineers, web designers, mechanical and electrical engineers and technicians, teachers, tourism and hospitality workers, and truck and delivery service drivers. The EMPP gives employers another avenue to address their labour market needs, while offering EMPP candidates an opportunity to restart their careers and their lives in safety with their families here in Canada.
In addition, the EMPP will now include a more flexible approach to eligibility by allowing other displaced people who lack a durable solution and are in need of international protection to apply.
As these individuals rebuild their lives and careers, they help fill gaps in our labour force, contribute to local economies, and enrich our communities. More information on the new federal pathway, including eligibility criteria, will be available on the EMPP webpage in the coming weeks.
“Canada is a global leader in helping skilled refugees connect with employers struggling to find workers in critical areas, while giving newcomers the opportunity to restart their careers and their lives here in Canada. Our government will continue to develop and scale innovative immigration measures to help employers address their critical labour shortages and provide refugees with the opportunity to live in safety while rebuilding their lives.”
– The Honourable Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship
“Since December 2021, TBB and our employer partners have had to pass on some 1,600 potential job matches in Canada, as there was not a suitable immigration pathway for refugees. Following the first ever Global Summit on Refugee Labour Mobility earlier this month, the potential for skilled refugees to address labour gaps has never been more apparent. This new pathway will provide countless opportunities for skilled refugees and employers alike, ensuring that any employer can take advantage of the EMPP if they wish to do so. With this initiative, Canada continues to demonstrate its commitment to being a global leader in immigration and labour mobility, and we are proud to be a part of this important step forward.”
– Lara Dyer, Canada Director, Talent Beyond Boundaries
“This is a solution for every hiring team in Canada. There are many thousands of women and men living as refugees globally who have enormous talent to contribute. Why not source your future colleagues from within refugee populations? You’ll find competitive skills, adaptability and creativity. These are people you want on your team. As visas get more seamless, Canada can become the world's capital for hiring displaced talent.”
– Dana Wagner, Co-Founder and Managing Director, TalentLift
“We believe that the introduction of a new federal immigration pathway is a game changer for the EMPP. Simplifying the process and making it more accessible to employers across Canada is crucial to scaling up the program. At Jumpstart Refugee Talent, we are thrilled to support our employer partners in bridging their hiring needs and gaining access to much-needed talent. This new immigration pathway will undoubtedly play a pivotal role in facilitating the integration of displaced talent and creating a more inclusive labour market in Canada.”
– Bassel Ramli, Cofounder and Director, Economic Mobility, Jumpstart Refugee Talent
“The need for skilled talent continues to create many recruitment challenges for employers in the long-term care sector. Within our organization, we have seen our needs increase over the past few years as we transition out of the pandemic. Being able to hire through the Economic Mobility Pathways Pilot has created opportunities for us to gain access to a skilled talent pool abroad that we likely would not have been able to access otherwise. The candidates we are currently working with have the much-needed education and skills we require. We are excited that we are able to provide long-term solutions for these candidates, while also helping to address our staffing shortages. The use of the EMPP has now become part of our overall long-term HR strategy.”
– Doug Stephens, General Manager of Operations and Human Resources, MacLeod Group
Through the EMPP, seven NGO partners help skilled refugees overseas connect with employers who need to overcome critical labour shortages. Once candidates receive a job offer, they can apply to immigrate to Canada through existing regional economic programs. After the relevant province, territory or community approves the application, candidates can then apply to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) for permanent residence, using EMPP measures that remove barriers refugees may experience due to their displacement.
The application process for the new federal pathway will be easier and faster thanks to standardized eligibility criteria and the fact that only one application needs to be submitted. In most cases, applications are expected to be processed within 6 months, so EMPP newcomers will be able to move to and start working in Canada quickly.
EMPP facilitation measures include waiving some fees, making it easier to validate work experience, and letting candidates use loans to fund travel costs, settlement needs, start-up costs and fees that cannot be waived. An NGO partner provides low-interest microloans to eligible EMPP candidates who do not have the minimum funds to meet settlement requirements.
Canada has set ambitious targets for the EMPP—over the next few years, Canada will continue to expand it and welcome 2,000 qualified refugees and other displaced individuals to fill specific labour shortages in high-demand sectors, such as health care, skilled trades and information technology.
NGO partners are working with provinces, territories and communities to engage employers across the country, for example by organizing job fairs to connect them to qualified candidates overseas.
With the new federal pathway, employers will be able to hire refugees and other displaced people who qualify under any National Occupation Classification 2021 category (TEER 0–5).
The Government of Canada will work closely with partner organizations and communities across the country to raise awareness of the new pathway among employers and sector leaders so they can factor skilled refugees and other qualified displaced people into their recruitment plans.
The new pathway will build on ongoing measures to expand the pilot. In December 2022, IRCC announced new funding for partner organizations to build their capacity in key areas, for example by identifying qualified candidates overseas and supporting candidates and employers throughout the interview, hiring and immigration processes. Canada has also started rolling out a more flexible process with trusted partners to make it easier for qualified candidates to apply to the EMPP.
Contacts for media only:
Bahoz Dara Aziz
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada
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