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The Status of Immigration: Looking Beyond COVID-19
Workwise Newsletter

This year has been tough on the world. All levels of government are consistently implementing new strategies in hopes of counter-balancing the negative effects of COVID-19. In the last month, two major announcements have been made that will affect Albertans moving forward.

Immigration Levels Plan

In light of the delays and disruptions caused by the pandemic, Canada’s federal government recently announced its very ambitious plan to increase immigration levels for 2021 through 2023. The plan hopes to approve over 400,000 Permanent Residents each year for the next three years. Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino explained that the government intends to use this plan to attract workers who will fill labour shortages in industry sectors that are struggling. Specifically, the goal is to facilitate immigration while strengthening the Canadian middle class through well managed and responsible economic growth.

Minister Mendicino confidently noted that the government believes it can meet the quoted targets while complying with the ever-evolving travel restrictions and quarantine policies. It was reiterated that the health and safety of all those in Canada remains a priority. Full details of the immigration levels plan can be found here.

Reactions to the proposed immigration plan are polarizing. Many believe this is the government’s attempt to make up for the halting of processing thousands of applications during 2020. Those who are more optimistic maintain hope that the promised increase will ultimately support employers who rely on foreign workers to keep their businesses running and profitable. Conversely, others suggest this goal is both unrealistic and unattainable and also point to record unemployment among Canadians. The government has yet to provide an actual plan to facilitate and process such a high volume of applications, especially considering the current processing times are at an all-time high.

Alberta LMIA Refusals

In contrast to the Minister’s announcement, the Alberta government announced shortly after that Employment and Social Development Canada will be refusing all new and pending Labour Market Impact Assessments (LMIAs) in Alberta. Only specifically exempted occupations will be facilitated in an effort to combat Alberta’s current unemployment rate. A full list of exempted occupations can be found here.  

The first LMIA refusals were issued at the beginning of November and it is expected over 800 LMIA applications will be refused under this policy. Receiving a refusal has and will continue to cause many businesses and foreign nationals’ great concern.

Most employers use the LMIA only when they were unable through regular recruiting efforts, to find a Canadian or a Permanent Resident with the specific skill set they required for a role. Employers are now scrambling to determine if there is any way to retain their specifically selected foreign national employees. If no alternative work permit category can be identified, employers will be required to send employees back to their respective home countries and begin what can only be anticipated to be an extensive recruiting to find a viable candidate within Canada.

Field Law’s Immigration Group is available to help companies navigate these changes with innovative solutions to keep their business growing while ensuring compliance with the ever-evolving immigration policies.