CALGARY, Oct. 17, 2013 /CNW/ - In a keynote speech today at the very first Skilled Migration National Employer Conference, the Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of Employment and Social Development and Minister for Multiculturalism, emphasized the importance of addressing skills shortages to support economic growth and long-term prosperity in Canada.
Minister Kenney also spoke about the government's Speech from the Throne which reaffirmed the Government of Canada's priorities as creating jobs and opportunities for Canadians by protecting the economy, keeping taxes low and keeping Canadian families and communities safe.
"Canadians, including newcomers, must always be first in line for available jobs. Searching for the best candidate should begin at home," said Minister Kenney. "Canada has one of the best-educated workforces in the world, but there are too many people without jobs and jobs without people. Our Government is taking action to increase employment by ensuring Canadians are able to fill job vacancies."
Minister Kenney also stressed that attracting and retaining the best international talent is critical to Canada's growth and competitiveness. For this reason, the Government is building a faster, more flexible immigration system that is focused on economic growth, allowing Canada to select the high-calibre, job ready newcomers that employers need. Canadian employers were also encouraged to develop their own employees and invest more in training and apprenticeships.
Economic Action Plan 2013 proposes new measures to connect Canadians to available jobs by equipping them with the skills and training they need. These include the Canada Job Grant, creating opportunities for apprentices and providing support to under-represented groups.
The Government of Canada's Foreign Credential Recognition Program and Services
The Foreign Credential Recognition Program improves the integration of internationally trained workers into the workforce. The Program works with and provides funding to provinces, territories and other stakeholders—including regulatory bodies, post-secondary institutions, sector councils and employers—to implement projects that facilitate the assessment and recognition of qualifications acquired in other countries.
Established in May 2007, the Foreign Credentials Referral Office (FCRO) provides information and referral services, both in Canada and overseas, to help internationally trained workers have their credentials assessed quickly.
Internationally trained workers can find online services through the FCRO website at www.credentials.gc.ca
Also, in 2005 the Government of Canada launched the Internationally Educated Health Professionals Initiative. This initiative works with provinces, territories and stakeholders to enable more internationally educated health professionals put their skills to work in Canada's health system.
In February 2012, the Government introduced the Foreign Credential Recognition Loans Pilot Project. Delivered in cooperation with community organizations, this pilot is helping internationally trained professionals cover the costs of having their credentials recognized, so they can find jobs that best suit their skills and experience.
Opportunities for Apprentices
To further reduce barriers to accreditation in the skilled trades in Canada and increase opportunities for apprentices, the Government will work with provinces and territories to harmonize requirements for apprentices, and examine the use of practical tests as a method of assessment, in targeted skilled trades. This will support more apprentices in completing their training and encourage mobility across the country.
In addition, the Government will support the use of apprentices in federal construction and maintenance contracts. The Government will also ensure that funds transferred to provinces and territories through the Investment in Affordable Housing Program support the use of apprentices. As part of the new Building Canada plan for infrastructure, the Government will encourage provinces, territories and municipalities to support the use of apprentices in infrastructure projects receiving federal funding.
The Apprenticeship Incentive Grant (AIG) is a $1,000 taxable cash grant for apprentices who complete the first and/or second level of their apprenticeship program in a designated Red Seal trade, to a maximum of $2,000. The AIG was announced as part of Budget 2006.
The Apprenticeship Completion Grant (ACG) is a $2,000 taxable cash grant for eligible apprentices who successfully complete their apprenticeship training and receive their journeyperson certification in a designated Red Seal trade. The ACG was announced as part of Canada's Economic Action Plan 2009.
As a result of these grants, apprentices who complete their apprenticeship training in a designated Red Seal trade and become certified journeypersons could be eligible to receive up to $4,000. To date, the Government of Canada has issued over a half-billion dollars in apprenticeship grants for Canadians.
Temporary Foreign Worker Program
On April 29, to strengthen and improve the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, the Government announced planned legislative, regulatory and administrative changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.
To date, the Government of Canada has implemented the following changes from that announcement:
- require employers to pay temporary foreign workers at the prevailing wage by removing the previous wage flexibility;
- temporarily suspended the Accelerated Labour Market Opinion (LM0) process;
- introduce fees for employers for the processing of Labour Market Opinions so that the taxpayers are no longer subsidizing these costs;
- identify English and French as the only languages that can be identified as a job requirement;
- increase the recruitment efforts that employers must make to hire Canadians before they will be eligible to apply for temporary foreign workers, including increasing the length and reach of advertising; and
- add questions to LMO applications to ensure that the TFWP is not used to facilitate the outsourcing of Canadian jobs.
The following planned changes are still under development as part of the ongoing reform of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and will be implemented in the coming months:
- increase the Government's authority to revoke work permits and suspend, revoke and refuse to process Labour Market Opinions (LMO) if employers are misusing the program; and
- ensure employers who rely on temporary foreign workers have a firm plan in place to transition to a Canadian workforce over time.
Job Bank and Job Alerts
Job Bank is the Government of Canada's free job listing and employment information website. Each year, Job Bank helps hundreds of thousands of Canadian workers, job seekers and employers connect online.
As part of the Government's overall strategy to connect Canadians with available jobs, the enhanced Job Alerts system was launched in January 2013 to include more timely and relevant job postings as well as information about the local job market. Subscribers to Job Alerts receive, by email, jobs posted on Job Bank up to twice a day. Job Alerts also delivers relevant, up-to-date information on the job market straight to the subscriber's inbox. For more information, visit jobbank.gc.ca
Economic Action Plan 2013
Economic Action Plan 2013 proposes new measures to equip Canadians with the skills and training they need to fill skills shortages and succeed in the Canadian labour market. These include the Canada Job Grant, which will invest in skills training for unemployed and underemployed Canadians, better ensuring they are qualified to fill the high-quality, well-paying jobs that are available. Economic Action Plan 2013 is also creating opportunities for apprentices and providing support to under-represented groups such as Canadians with disabilities, Aboriginal people, newcomers and youth.
To learn more about Canada's Economic Action Plan, visit actionplan.gc.ca.
SOURCE: Employment and Social Development Canada
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