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Federal government slashes immigration program

Potential immigrants need to act fast, says Whistler lawyer

A lawyer with Whistler Immigration is furious over the federal government's recent decision to cancel one of the most popular permanent residency programs.

The change, which came into effect June 26, will impact many people in Whistler with plans to secure immigration status in Canada, said Paul Griodo.

"There are definitely some objective facts that make you scratch your head and definitely a lot of subjective opinion is going to flow from this announcement," he said.

"Now, the skilled worker categories that remain are really designed for people that are outside of the country, who have never worked in Canada."

Up until last Friday, temporary foreign workers and international students could submit their paper work for permanent residency after working for one year in a skilled job. But now, only those who have an offer of employment or fall into one of 29 occupations can go through the Federal Skilled Worker immigration program, explained Griodo.

Not only that, but the federal government has also capped the number of people who can apply through the Federal Skilled Worker Program at 20,000 across Canada each year.

There are major flaws in these changes, said Griodo.

"The benefit of having an individual apply for immigration who has experience working in Canada is they have learned their way around and understood the system, both bureaucratically and community-wise," he said. Griodo pointed out that the adaptation period can be tough when someone first moves to Canada from a different culture.

On top of that, he said the change will force many people to commit to working for an employer for an extended length of time simply to see their immigration through. That creates an indentured-labour situation, he said.

In response to the decision, Griodo says immigrant hopefuls need to act fast.

"The government is not changing their decision," he said. "Now the issue is alerting people that thought they had the opportunity to work their one year and then apply to the immigration program that they now have to revisit their strategy and choose a new strain.

"There is urgency."

Griodo said potential permanent residents need to get ready to flip into one of the other two categories, which will likely see a surge in applicants following the changes. About a third of his clients who apply for permanent residency tend to go through the program that was cancelled.

The change only impacts people applying through the Federal Skilled Workers program, clarified Griodo. It doesn't affect those on worker or study visas, or people following other immigration routes.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada's changes are in response to a huge backlog of applications. Spokespeople for the ministry say the government is receiving more applications than it can process in a timely manner.

Meanwhile, along with the changes, Minister Jason Kenney hopes to allow 10,000 more economic immigrants into Canada than originally planned.

Encouraging investors to move permanently to Canada will help boost economic recovery in the country, he said in a June 25 press release.

"When I met with my provincial colleagues last week, they all stressed the importance of economic immigration," Kenney states in the press release. "As we recover from the recession, increasing economic immigration will help ensure employers have the workers they need to supplement our domestic labour supply."

But Griodo said with these changes the minister is turning his back on the concept of entrepreneurial spirit and people who are more likely to take risks in Canada and grow the economy. Instead, he is just trying to attract people with a lot of money who don't need to take those same kinds of financial risks.

"The investors that we deal with are great people who are engaged in political issues and aware of what is happening around the world, but I don't see any of them running out to start a business," said Griodo.