ARCHIVED – Speaking notes for The Honourable Jason Kenney, P.C., M.P. Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, and The Honourable Gary Goodyear, P.C., M.P., Minister of State (Science and Technology)

At an event to announce the 10,000th admission under the Canadian Experience Class, and a new initiative aimed at attracting and retaining international PhD students Ottawa, Ontario, November 2, 2011

As delivered

THE HONOURABLE JASON KENNEY (Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism):

Good afternoon. I’m Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, and I’m joined today by my colleague the Honourable Gary Goodyear, Minister of Science and Technology at the Department of Industry. We are here today to make two important announcements for the future of immigration in Canada, and economic growth.

I’m delighted to be here to announce a major milestone in our immigration program. Immigration has always been a sustaining feature of Canada’s history and continues to play an important role in building our country. For immigration to continue to support our economy’s development it’s crucial that we maintain an immigration system that responds to our economic needs in a timely way. The Government has focused a great deal of effort on ensuring that any immigrant we welcome in Canada fully integrates and succeeds.

After all, the success of our immigration program and the success of newcomers mean that Canada will succeed. This is why we created the Canadian Experience Class, the first new pathway to permanent residency in Canada in several decades. We created it in 2008 as an avenue for high skilled temporary workers and for foreign students who have graduated from Canadian colleges or universities to be able to apply for and obtain immigration and permanent residency from within Canada.

In the past, before we introduced this program, we would invite these bright young students from all around the world and they would finish their degrees or diplomas in Canada, and then we would say, Excellent, you now have a degree or a diploma that will be recognized by a Canadian employer. You have some work experience in Canada. You have perfected your English or French language skills. We used to say, Now please leave the country and if you want to immigrate get in the back of a seven year long queue.

That didn’t make any sense at all because these are folks who are pre-integrated. They are set for success. All of the research and data tells us that those immigrants who have Canadian degrees, Canadian work experience and strong language skills are the most likely to succeed, and that’s why we created the Canadian Experience Class to give them a fast track to permanent residency from within Canada.

I am very pleased to announce that the program – it had a bit of a slow start but it’s picking up momentum. I’m pleased to announce that Canada has welcomed its 10,000th permanent resident through the Canadian Experience Class. Her name is Goomaral Chukhalkhuu.

Goomaral, or Maral to her friends, comes originally to Canada from Mongolia and studied here in Ottawa and has been accepted as an immigrant through the Canadian Experience Class. She is a perfect example of the kind of newcomer who will succeed in Canada. She has already been working now for two years at the Royal Bank of Canada as a small business account manager with the RBC here in Ottawa. She’s joined by a number of her colleagues. We’d like to congratulate you, Maral, for representing rally in many ways the future of immigration to Canada.

Maral is, as I said, originally from Mongolia and she has been recognized as the 10,000th person to be admitted under the CEC by virtue of the education she pursued at Carleton University and the workplace experience she gained at the Royal Bank.

In the past, as I said, if Maral had graduated from university before the CEC she would have had to leave the country and get in the back of what had developed into a seven-year-long queue.  Now, thankfully, she is a permanent resident and we hope that someday she will become a citizen of Canada. The CEC allows us to retain people like Maral who are the best and the brightest. That`s good for Canada and I hope it’s also good for them.

In 2010, we saw dramatic increases in the admissions in this program, including a 79 % increase in the temporary foreign worker stream for the Canadian Experience Class and an 11 % increase in the international student stream. With more than 3,500 new CEC permanent residents up to the end of September, we anticipate more admissions next year. We have a target in fact in 2012 of 7,000 admissions through this program.

It accepts two kinds of applicants, as I’ve said: successful international students and high-skilled temporary foreign workers. For foreign students the program requires that applicants have completed a Canadian credential such as a certificate, diploma or degree of at least two years duration and to have gained Canadian work experience at a certain skill level for at least one year.

This means that the CEC may not be the best option for students enrolled in PhD programs because they can take five years or more to complete and usually they’re going straight into research or academic assignments so they don’t have time to go out into the regular workforce.  So today, my colleague Gary Goodyear will be announcing an exciting new development, a new stream for PhD students. I’d like to introduce my colleague Minister Goodyear to give us the details of that.

THE HONOURABLE GARY GOODYEAR (Minister of State for Science and Technology):

Thank you very much. Ladies and gentlemen, doctoral graduates play a unique role in the economy. They drive research, they encourage innovation and they pass on their knowledge to the next generation through teaching. Some of them, of course, become medical doctors and keep us healthy. Others will invent products or processes that not only will improve our lives but will create jobs.

Quite simply, Canada needs more of them. Currently Canada lags behind the United States and the OECD average in terms of PhD attainment. Canadian students are also not strongly represented in the so-called STEM disciplines – the sciences, technologies, engineering and mathematics – and international students are well represented in these fields.

Research and development in these fields contributes greatly to our overall national competitiveness in the global market and of course create more job opportunities for Canadians.  In addition to this, immigrants who have obtained PhDs in Canada do very well economically, with salaries that are comparable to Canadian-born PhD holders. With this initiative, we are basically telling the innovators of tomorrow that Canada is ready to welcome them and their ideas.

Ladies and gentlemen, starting November 5th, certain international PhD students will be eligible to apply for processing as federal skilled workers. To be eligible, they must have completed at least two years of study towards the attainment of a PhD and remain in good academic standing at a provincially-recognized post-secondary educational institution in Canada. 

Those who have already graduated from a Canadian PhD program will also be eligible to apply provided they do so within 12 months of their graduation. I think this is a great opportunity.  I will now turn the podium back over to the Honourable Minister Kenney. Thank you very much, Jason.

THE HONOURABLE JASON KENNEY (Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism):

Thanks very much, Gary, for your leadership, as well, in the post-secondary sector, for example leading the Knowledge Infrastructure Program at our colleges and universities. That has made a big impact. Let me just conclude by saying that all of this blends together because we have also seen in the past five years a very substantial increase in the number of foreign students studying at Canadian colleges and universities.

We have in fact, for example, from India alone seen a tripling of the number of foreign students coming in the past three years alone, and about a doubling coming from China. We expect that many of these foreign students will go on, like Maral did, to become permanent residents through the Canadian Experience Class or as PhD students through this new stream in the federal skilled worker program.

That’s very exciting, and it’s also why the Government announced in the 2011 budget that we have set aside $10 million to promote Canadian universities and colleges overseas and to improve the Canadian post-secondary brand in the very competitive market for international students.

Before we take questions, I’d just like to present Maral with a congratulatory bouquet on being the 10,000th CEC immigrant to Canada.  Congratulations, Maral.

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