ARCHIVED – Speaking notes for The Honourable Jason Kenney, P.C., M.P. Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism

At an event to announce the 20,000th immigrant admitted to Canada under the Canadian Experience Class

Toronto, Ontario
September 14, 2012

As delivered

Thank you very much. A pleasure to be here for an exciting announcement. As you know, Canada is a land of opportunity for newcomers from around the world. In fact, since our Government came to office, we have been admitting the largest number of immigrants, at a sustained level, in Canadian history — over a quarter of a million new people a year coming here to help us build Canada’s future. We have been maintaining the highest per-capita level of immigration in the developed world, as well as the highest naturalization rate, rate of newcomers who go on to be full members of the Canadian family as Canadian citizens. 

And, as you also know, we have embarked upon a fundamental program of reform of Canada’s immigration system designed to ensure that immigration works for Canada’s economy and that there are greater opportunities to be realized by immigrants to this country.

For too long, we have seen too many newcomers struggling to survive in our economy, too many people who arrive with high hopes and dreams only to face unemployment or underemployment.  That simply isn’t acceptable, especially in an economy with large labour shortages.

That’s why we must make sensible changes to our immigration program designed to attract those people who are the most likely to succeed and integrate, making good incomes for their families, finding good jobs, starting successful businesses so they can realize their potential and achieve their dreams in this land of opportunity like generations before them.

That’s what all of these immigration reforms are designed to do, in addition to strengthening the integrity of our system.

One of the key reforms that we have launched has been the creation of the first new path to permanent residency in a generation in Canada’s immigration program when, in 2008, we created the new Canadian Experience Class. All of our research tells us that immigrants who have Canadian university degrees or diplomas, and Canadian work experience, and who are younger, and who have higher levels of English or French language proficiency, are those who succeed the most in terms of their economic opportunity in Canada. That’s what the research tells us.

And yet, strangely, until we created the Canadian Experience Class four years ago, when we had bright young foreign students come to Canada and complete their degrees or diplomas, we then asked them at the end of their academic program to leave Canada and, if they wanted to immigrate, to get in the back of a seven- or eight-year-long queue in our skilled worker program.

Well, I think that was just crazy, to take some of the world’s best and brightest who had invested in Canada and who were set for success and ask them to leave just when we could use their amazing skills and talents. 

That’s why we created the Canadian Experience Class, to say that we invite those brilliant young foreign students who have completed at least a two-year degree or diploma and one year of work in Canada to stay as permanent residents and to stay through a program that allows them to apply in Canada with fast processing.

Now, the Canadian Experience Class was created with two streams: one for foreign students who had completed a two-year degree or diploma and one year of work in Canada; and, secondly, for people who arrive here on work permits as temporary foreign workers in skilled occupations who, after two years, could stay in Canada through the CEC.

I can announce that this year we have reduced the benchmark for people here on work permits to qualify for permanent residency through this program from two years of work to one year of work in Canada, making the program even more flexible.

I should also mention that we created a program as a government to provide for three-year open work permits for foreign students who have completed an academic program in Canada, degree or diploma in Canada. 

So all of this is now coming together.

Let me just say that we believe that the Canadian Experience Class is the future of Canada’s immigration program, welcoming bright young people from around the world who have already shown their initiative, drive and enterprise by, at a young age, doing their research all around the world and choosing Canada as the best country to be coming here and investing in a higher education in our good colleges and universities, doing well in school, finding a job, finding an employer who likes them, getting a year of work experience by which time they have a degree or diploma that Canadian employers will recognize. They won’t be going through any credential recognition gap. They have improved or perfected their English or French language skills. They have work experience which, of course, the absence of which is the key hurdle for immigrants to find jobs in Canada. In other words, they are set for success.

Now, when we launched the Canadian Experience Class back in 2008, we had high hopes for it to become a major part of our immigration program. For reasons that still elude us, it was under-subscribed originally. But the program has begun to pick up momentum and is beginning to realize, I think, its potential as the core program for immigration to Canada.

And so today, as part of that momentum, I’m pleased to announce that we have just admitted the 20,000th permanent resident to Canada through the Canadian Experience Class. And the 20,000th resident is Mr. Gaurav Gore of Toronto, originally of India, who came to Canada to do his Masters at the Rotman School of Business here at the University of Toronto, was shortly thereafter employed, works for the Bank of Montreal. And I’ve just had a brief chat with him and his wife, who has now come up here from the United States. And I can already tell that they perfectly typify the kind of newcomers who we hope to attract through the Canadian Experience Class. This young couple represent in many ways the future of Canada: bright, hardworking, energetic people who are going to contribute to Canada, raise a family here. And we are so proud to welcome them.


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