Canada is doubling the number of out-of-status construction workers in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) to whom it is willing to offer permanent residence under a temporary pathway to immigration expanded on Friday.
“This pilot program is a significant step forward in addressing critical labour shortages for the Greater Toronto Area by supporting stability in the construction industry and bringing workers out of the underground economy,” said Immigration Minister Sean Fraser.
“By providing regular pathways for out-of-status migrants, we are not only protecting workers and their families but also safeguarding Canada’s labour market and ensuring that we can retain the skilled workers we need to grow our economy and build our communities.
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“This initiative is a testament to our government’s commitment to finding innovative solutions to support Canada’s workforce and strengthen our economy.”
Construction industry employers and the sector’s labour unions in Canada’s biggest city were delighted with the announcement by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).
“The Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) is pleased to continue assisting another 500 out-of-status construction workers and their immediate families in finding a pathway to permanent residence that will end the insecure nature of their employment and immigration status in 2023,” said Bea Bruske, president of the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC).
“The out-of-status construction workers contribute greatly to the economy and society and continue to fill labour shortages. Without status, the workers live and work in fear of detection, detainment and deportation. Out-of-status workers are vulnerable to employer exploitation and abuse and they and their families live with limited access to education, health and social programs.”
The labour union president said the organization is proud to contribute to building the momentum and work towards a broad regularization program for undocumented people in Canada with the out-of-status construction workers in the GTA initiative.
Canada’ immigration department teamed up with Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) in 2019 to launch a permanent residence pilot program for 500 out-of-status workers in the construction industry in the GTA.
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This month, on Jan. 20, the IRCC announced it is extending and expanding the pilot program, doubling its scope to 1,000 out-of-status construction workers in the GTA.
“The extension and expansion of the initiative to regularize the status of construction workers in the Greater Toronto Area will help address labour shortages in this key industry while providing opportunities for workers who have been contributing to our economy to find a permanent home in Canada,” said Peter Fonseca, Member of Parliament for Mississauga East-Cooksville.
“By taking away the fear of removal, this program truly improves the lives and communities of those who have fallen out of status.”
Under the temporary public policy, out-of-status construction workers have until Jan. 2 next year to apply for permanent residence and can include their spouses, partners and dependent children in their application.
The CLC determines their eligibility before referring them to the IRCC.
Under the pilot, applicants who have significant work experience in construction occupations in the GTA, family members in Canada, a referral letter from the CLC and no reason for being inadmissible other than overstaying their work permit and working without authorization may be able to apply for permanent residence in Canada.
Since its launch in July 2019, 452 people have been accepted as permanent residents through this program, including 190 principal applicants and 262 dependents.
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Now, the IRCC is exploring broader regularization pathways for undocumented migrants and their families, pledging to offer more opportunities for people to enter or stay in the job market and fill labour shortages.
Canada is bullish on immigration.
In its 2023-2025 Immigration Levels Plan, Ottawa has set the target for 2023 at 465,000 new permanent residents. The country is to welcome 485,000 new permanent residents in 2024 and another 500,000 in 2025.
That’s a total of 1.45 million immigrants to Canada over the coming three years.