Ottawa is plunking down $6.2 million to help partner organizations run six projects and bring more skilled refugees to Canada under the Economic Mobility Pathways Pilot (EMPP).

“Resettlement provides refugees with the opportunity to live in safety and rebuild their lives but it shouldn’t mean their career experience gets overlooked in the process,” said Immigration Minister Sean Fraser.

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“Through this ground-breaking program, our government is highlighting skilled refugees’ professional achievements by allowing them to continue their career in Canada while giving employers access to a pool of global talent.”

IRCC hoping to bring in 2,000 refugees through the EMPP over the next few years

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) wants to expand the EMPP and welcome 2,000 skilled refugees to fill specific labour shortages in high-demand sectors, such as healthcare, skilled trades and information technology, over the next few years.

“Refugees have skills and talent that are desperately needed in the Canadian labour market, from personal care workers to skilled tradespeople to software engineers,” said Lara Dyer, the Canadian director of the Talent Beyond Boundaries partner organization.

“As an authorized referral partner under the EMPP, Talent Beyond Boundaries will continue working hard with our government and other partners to make it easier for skilled refugees to apply and faster for Canadian employers to hire, ultimately increasing the number of refugees relocating to Canada overall.”

Under the pilot program, partner organizations, including Talent Beyond Boundaries, TalentLift and Jumpstart Refugee Talent, help skilled refugees overseas connect with employers facing serious labour shortages.

Among the job vacancies typically filled through the EMPP are nurse aide, personal support worker, chef cook, and trades positions.

“The Canadian economy is experiencing chronic talent shortages across multiple sectors,” said Bassel Ramli, global programs director at Jumpstart Refugee Talent.

“Millions of refugees around the world are seeking durable solutions to secure better lives for their families. In partnership with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, Jumpstart is supporting employers across Canada in hiring and relocating people from displaced populations.”

Once candidates receive a job offer, they can apply to immigrate to Canada through existing economic programs, using EMPP measures which remove barriers refugees may experience due to their displacement.

EMPP partner organizations undergoing mandatory training and quality assurance reviews

In mid-December, Ottawa rolled out a more flexible process for its trusted partners to make it easier for qualified candidates to apply and also announced it would be providing these organizations with mandatory training and also require they go through quality assurance reviews.

“Canada is taking important steps to build a more inclusive, skilled immigration system,” said Dana Wagner, managing director at TalentLift.

“Our next challenge is scaling this solution for hiring teams and displaced job seekers who have the needed skills plus incredible perseverance, adaptability and ingenuity. To all hiring managers: these are folks you want on your teams.”

The United Nations Refugee Agency’s Global Trends Report 2021 notes that Canada resettled more refugees than any other country in the world that year, more than 20,400 people.

Launched in 2018, the EMPP’s goal is to resettle 500 refugees and their families during its current, second phase.

The pilot program waives some fees, makes it easier for refugees to prove their work experience, and lets them use loans to fund travel costs, settlement needs, start-up costs and fees which cannot be waived. The processing time is usually six months.

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