OECD report labels Canada’s immigration system global benchmark

By Staff

Canada is well placed to capitalize on its world-leading economic immigration system, says Toronto immigration lawyer Robin Seligman.

Seligman, principal of immigration law boutique Seligman Professional Corporation, welcomes a recent report by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which described the country’s immigration system as a “benchmark” for other nations around the world.

“It’s good for Canada to get some recognition,” she tells “But we should be ready to keep improving.”

The report cited Canada’s high levels of newcomer integration and public acceptance as reasons for its favourable assessment, noting that skilled workers around the globe share the positive sentiment.

“Core to this success is not only the elaborate selection system itself, but also the entire infrastructure it is based on, which ensures constant monitoring and adaptation of its parameters,” the report reads. “This includes a comprehensive and constantly improving data infrastructure, coupled with the capacity to analyze it, and swift policy reaction to new evidence and emerging challenges.”

The authors also highlighted the success of the four-year-old Express Entry system, concluding that it “has further enhanced the competitive edge of the selection system relative to other countries” by ensuring those with the right skills “are admitted to Canada in a quick and efficient way.”

The system was modelled on methods used in Australia and New Zealand, and designed to speed up the process for obtaining permanent residence, the report notes. Potential immigrants register their names on a central pool, where they are then assigned a score out of 1,200 and ranked in order. After setting a points cutoff, Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada then invites the top candidates to apply for permanent residence.

Seligman says other more recent programs, including the Global Talent Stream, have helped Canada target desirable workers in high-demand fields. The stream, which was recently made permanent following a two-year pilot project, is designed to provide employers with expedited access to specialized and highly-skilled workers.

“But there is room for improvement,” says Seligman, who urges the federal government to study the report’s recommendations for further enhancements of Canada’s immigration system.

Below, she offers her thoughts on some of the OECD's ideas:

  • While the report calls for abolishing the underused Federal Skilled Trades Program, Seligman says it could be updated and utilized more.
  • She does not necessarily agree with the OECD's recommendation to merge the currently separate pathways for the Federal Skilled Worker, Federal Skilled Trades and Canadian Experience Class.
  • Tweaking the Comprehensive Ranking System by awarding points for Canadian work experience would be welcomed by Seligman, but she cautions against scoring based on the wage of the last Canadian job, rather than duration and occupational classification. Instead, she would increase the age at which points are taken off for age from 30 to 36.
  • She agrees with the report's suggestion that the burdensome Labour Market Impact Assessment be replaced with an integrity check for regular, non-senior management positions.

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