Parliament passed Motion 44 with Jenny’s amendment to expand economic immigration to "all skill levels" and adding “caregivers" into specifically considered occupations

I’m so pleased to see that the House has passed Motion 44 to improve Canada’s immigration system.  The Motion has adopted my amendment to expand "the economic immigration to allow workers of all skill levels to meet the full range of labour needs", and adding "caregivers" into specifically considered occupations and essential sectors that are underrepresented in current economic immigration programs.

I’m so pleased to see that the House has passed Motion 44 to improve Canada’s immigration system.  The Motion has adopted my amendment to expand "the economic immigration to allow workers of all skill levels to meet the full range of labour needs", and adding "caregivers" into specifically considered occupations and essential sectors that are underrepresented in current economic immigration programs.
Below is the passed Motion and my speech for the amendment.
MOTION TEXT
That, in the opinion of the House, the government should develop and publicly release within 120 days following the adoption of this motion a comprehensive plan to expand the economic immigration stream to allow workers of all skill levels to meet the full range of labour needs and pathways to permanent residency for temporary foreign workers, including international students, with significant Canadian work experience in sectors with persistent labour shortages, and such plan should incorporate the following elements: 
(a) amending eligibility criteria under economic immigration programs to give more weight to significant in-Canada work experience and expand the eligible occupational categories and work experience at various skills levels; 
(b) examining evidence and data gathered from recent programs such as Temporary Resident to Permanent Resident Pathway, Atlantic Immigration Program (AIP), Rural and Northern Immigration Program (RNIP), and Agri-Food Pilot, and Provincial Nominee Process (PNP); 
(c) incorporating data on labour market and skills shortages to align policy on immigrant-selection with persistent labour gaps; 
(d) assessing ways to increase geographic distribution of immigration and encourage immigrant retention in smaller communities, as well as increase Francophone immigration outside Quebec; 
(e) identifying mechanisms for ensuring flexibility in immigration-selection tools to react quicker to changes in labour market needs and regional economic priorities; and 
(f) specifically considering occupations and essential sectors that are underrepresented in current economic immigration programs, such as health services, caregivers, agriculture, manufacturing, service industry, trades, and transportation.
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Jenny Kwan Vancouver East, BC
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to the House today regarding Motion No. 44. From our time together at the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration during previous sessions, it is clear to me that the member for Surrey Centre is passionate about improving Canada's immigration system. This motion highlights that well. I congratulation the member on being number one.
My colleagues in the NDP and I have long viewed Canada's immigration system as an exercise in nation building. Individuals and families from all corners of the world, for generations, have come to Canada. They have contributed to our communities, our social fabric, our culture and our economy.
In the past, Canada's immigration system offered landed status on arrival for a full range of workers. Unfortunately, successive Liberal and Conservative governments have shifted our system over time to include just what IRCC deems as high-skilled workers. As a result, Canadian employers have struggled to find the full range of workers needed to meet the labour demand, and increasingly, Canada has turned to the temporary foreign worker program. On an annual basis, there are now more temporary foreign workers in the country than there are new landed immigrants.
Twenty years ago, there were 60,000 temporary work permits in Canada. Today, there are over 400,000. As we have witnessed, precarious status immigration streams lead to severe power imbalances, abuse and a fear to speak out. Whether they are the rampant exploitation of live-in caregivers and stories of threats to deport them, which forced program reforms, or the countless stories of workplace rights violations, including wage theft and illegal housing of temporary foreign workers, many of these issues stem from the precarious nature of the immigrant workers community.
The pandemic has really highlighted the fact that temporary foreign workers have been mistreated, and there are two issues I would like to talk about.
The first is that Canadians and our economy heavily rely on access to temporary foreign workers, many of whom are essential workers, even though IRCC defines these workers as low or medium skilled. They work at grocery stores, put food on our tables, care for our loved ones and so much more. Across the board, their value should be recognized with livable wages, secure employment benefits and, as COVID has demonstrated, paid sick leave. However, too often, these essential workers are paid minimum wages. They can only come to Canada as temporary foreign workers and not as immigrants.
This needs to change. That is why the NDP is putting forward an amendment to the motion to expand the economic immigration stream beyond what IRCC deems as high-skilled workers to include the full range of workers. I will be moving that motion at the end of my speech.
The second issue is the continued lack of enforcement of the rules that prevent exploitation and harm to temporary foreign workers. The recent Auditor General's report found that the government assessed almost all employers as compliant with COVID-19 regulations, even though it had “gathered little or no evidence to demonstrate this”. The continuous failure to act to enforce the basic standards, rules and principles of the program tips the scale further in favour of abuse, exploitation, exclusion, and tragically, death.
I do not say that lightly. Whether it is a failure to follow COVID guidelines leading to COVID deaths, or the unsafe work practices that result in the workplace deaths of agriculture workers, the mistreatment of these precarious migrants leads to tragedy each and every year. Many, myself included, have argued for a very long time that the temporary foreign worker program is a complete misnomer.
While it aims to be for filling in labour or skills shortages on a temporary basis, we all know that is not the case. Instead, the program is used to fill permanent jobs with temporary people. The NDP has long agreed with migrant workers organizations that, if one is good enough to work here, one is good enough to stay. That means landed status on arrival and the recognition that the term “low-skilled” does not reflect the value of the work being done. Instead, it is just a term that justifies poor working conditions and low wages.
Eliminating the precarity of status for newcomers and removing the power imbalance created by tying a migrant worker to a specific employer would have an enormous positive impact on the lives of migrant workers overnight, and in the long term, a positive impact for our economy.
As just one example, COVID-19 has exposed a shortage of frontline health care workers in this country. In my years of work advocating for better treatment, the end to forced family separation, and landed status on arrival for migrants arriving through the caregiver stream, I have heard countless stories of how many of these women are trained nurses and caregivers who could not practice because of immigration laws.
It makes no sense that they are not able to practise their profession, even if they have passed all the tests and meet all the credentials. The only thing preventing them from working in their profession is immigration rules. Credential recognition does not help them because they are tied to the job and the employer that got them here. There is no flexibility. That is wrong and should be changed.
I am also happy to see the member included international students in the motion. The best and brightest young people from around the world come to Canada to study. For some, they want to take the skills they learn here and bring them home to improve their communities, and that is incredible.
However, we also must realize that for some, coming to Canada, obtaining an education here and being immersed in our communities is done with the goal of making Canada their home. While pathways exist, for many, the difficulty of navigating the system and delays for application approvals become serious hindrances to their ability to stay here and work in their field.
For reasons that have never been explained to me, students applying through express entry score lower than they should because any work experience they gain in Canada while studying does not count. This artificially lowers their score and makes it less likely for them to be selected. That too should change.
I would also be remiss if I did not speak to the lack of options that individuals without status have to regularize and obtain valid status. People can be in this country without status for a wide range of reasons. Some are out of their control; some are instances where they believed they were following the rules but were misled and exploited; some have lost status because of delays in the system. The reasons are many. For example, I am aware of caregivers who have lost status due to delays related to COVID in application processing.
There are an estimated 500,000 people already here in Canada without status. Many of them, due to this very precarious situation, are working under the table, not having their rights respected and are being exploited. They are also, in countless cases, working in positions well below the fullest of their abilities because they cannot come forward for positions they are qualified for without status.
We need to change all of that. I will therefore move the following amendment.
I move:
That the motion be amended:
(a) by adding after the words “comprehensive plan to expand” the following: “the economic immigration stream to allow workers of all skill levels to meet the full range of labour needs”; and
(b) in paragraph (f), by adding the word “caregivers” after the words “health services”.
I thank the member for Surrey Centre for accepting these amendments. I look forward to the plan from the government when the motion passes.
https://openparliament.ca/debates/2022/2/28/jenny-kwan-2/
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