Canada should revamp its immigration selection system to do what it was actually designed to do in 1967- select immigrants who will make great contributions to Canada.
Canada was the first country in the world to introduce a selection system that was based on points. The original points system which was introduced in the year 1967 was closely linked to the demand of the labour market and an immigrant’s potential to meet that demand.
The system worked not only because it was simple, but also because of the fact that the number of people applying from around the world at a time nearly equaled the ability of Canada to process cases. The system was successful because it selected immigrants who were needed in Canada and awarded points for every year of formal education (to a maximum of 20). Also, it was not only the PhDs, but also the apprenticed tradesman who were awarded for their training.
As the number of applications started to outstrip the processing capacity, the points system as well as the pass mark was adjusted in order to control the volume. By the end of 1986, education was only given a maximum of 12 marks and those in skilled trades could no longer get points for their years of apprenticeship whereas PhDs still managed to get sufficient points to pass from other factors.
Successive immigration acts provided that every application that is received needs to be assessed. As a result of this, number of applications continued to outstrip the processing capacity. By 2008, the CIC faced a backlog of more than 600,000 cases with the capacity of processing merely 200,000 applications per year.
But now, the immigration program of Canada doesn’t need the points system to be the gatekeeper. Thanks to the new legislation which grants the Minister the power to set annual limits and this frees the immigration officers to select the immigrants Canada needs.
However, to do so, new tools are needed by immigration officers as the current points system still creates many roadblocks for the workers and their families. The points system needs to be freed to choose the immigrants whose skills Canada needs and who will make Canada a better place. The system needs to be redesigned so that the workers we need must the accepted.
Notwithstanding the current economic slowdown, labour shortages are likely to become chronic unless aggressive steps are taken so that the immigration program of Canada can be used to help alleviate these pressures.