Immigration reforms put Canada on the right track

Ottawa, October 24 - The convergence of Canada’s “temporary” and “permanent” systems is providing a more flexible and adaptive approach to immigration, according to a Conference Board of Canada study, Renewing Immigration: Towards a Convergence and Consolidation of Canada’s Immigration Policies and Systems.

“Canada’s permanent and temporary immigration systems are changing to better address the needs of business, provinces and migrants themselves,” said Douglas Watt, associate director, organizational effectiveness and learning for the board. “These changes are positive steps, but more needs to be done. Canada is competing with other countries for top international talent and a willingness to adjust programs and policies is the hallmark of successful immigration systems.”

In recent years, increasing numbers of temporary workers have been accepted into Canada to fill gaps in labour markets. The following changes demonstrate the convergence between the temporary and permanent systems:
  • improvements to Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) Program, as well as the increasing use of mechanisms driven by employer-and regional-demand for skilled workers, particularly the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP);
  • the newly created Canadian Experience Class; and
  • improvements to the International Student Program, the Off-Campus Work Permit Program, and the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program.

The Conference Board provides a number of recommendations to make Canada’s immigrations systems more effective, which reflect the global trends in immigration:
  • Address the growing importance of skills-based migration to meet labour market needs-Australia has been a leader in this area; the federal government’s Bill C-50 is a positive move in this direction.
  • Maintain a robust commitment to humanitarian-based immigration while expanding skills-based migration-there is no need for an either/or choice between them.
  • Take further steps to help temporary foreign workers become permanent employees by creating new and improved pathways to permanent residency.
  • Harness the growing engagement of employers in immigration-the rapid expansion in size and scope of the TFW and the PNP and other programs demonstrates the growing interest and involvement of employers, but there is scope for greater engagement.
  • Increase settlement and integration services, especially in urban areas-The size and diversity of immigrant communities, especially within city-regions, has increased the need for greater support for existing immigrant communities.
  • Link immigration programs and practices to other major government policies and strategies-governments are increasingly linking immigration to overarching social, economic, and environmental objectives.

The study, produced under the three-year CanCompete research program, is unique in setting out the myriad pieces that comprise Canada’s permanent and temporary immigration systems. CanCompete, a three-year program of research and dialogue, is designed to help leading decision makers advance Canada on a path of national competitiveness.

The report is publicly available at