OECD Report Highlights Canada’s Economic Immigration System as ‘Benchmark’ for Other Countries

August 13, 2019 Updated: August 14, 2019

Canada’s economic immigration system has received high praise in a new OECD report, which commended it as a widely perceived “benchmark” and “role model” for the rest of the world.

The report is part of a series of reviews focusing on the labour migration policies of different countries. It was authored by Thomas Liebig, a senior migration specialist with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, who officially released the report on Aug. 13 in Toronto accompanied by federal Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen.

The 204-page report called Canada’s system the “largest and most comprehensive and elaborate skilled labour migration system in the OECD,” noting that as a country, Canada isn’t lacking in its appeal to potential immigrants.

“The OECD report stresses that core to Canada’s success is not only its elaborate selection system, but also the comprehensive infrastructure upon which it is built, which ensures constant testing, monitoring and adaptation of its parameters,” the organization wrote on its website. “This includes a comprehensive data infrastructure, the capacity to analyze such data, and subsequent swift policy reaction to new evidence and emerging challenges.”

The report noted that Canada admits the largest number of skilled labour migrants in the OECD, and praised the system’s careful design and the widespread public acceptance of Canadians toward new immigrants.

A chart provided by OECD shows Canada as the leading country in bringing in skilled labour immigrants among all countries in the organization. (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development)

In an email to CBC News, Liebeg explained that this acceptance can be largely credited to the Canadian perception that migration is “both well managed and beneficial” to the country in general.

“Not only is the selection system highly elaborate, but also many other factors support it which make for a well-managed system from which other countries can learn a lot,” he said.

Liebeg also called Canada a “role model” for its immigration system in his speech in Toronto, saying the report’s assessment was “very favourable” toward Canada.

Hussen noted that 80 percent of the country’s population growth could be attributed to the influx of immigrants from around the world. He told CBC News that Canada should continue to “be ambitious” in developing the system so as to account for the aging population.

However, the report also said that in order to “further strengthen the system,” there are some inconsistencies should be addressed. One of these is the difference between entry criteria and final selection criteria for immigrants—two areas that aren’t “well-aligned” and where “language requirements for several groups of onshore candidates are lower than for those coming from abroad.”

In addition, the report notes that although Canada has implemented a specific program to attract skilled workers in the trades, it restricts applicants to only a few occupations that are eligible for immigration, which essentially defeats the program’s original purpose. The report recommends that Canada provide “a single entry grid based on the core criteria for ultimate selection” in order to streamline the system.

The report concluded by applauding the government’s work in developing innovative and community-driven programs for immigrant nominees.

“Indeed, the report notes that Canada has been at the forefront of testing new, holistic approaches to managing labour migration and linking it with settlement services, especially in areas with demographic challenges,” it said.

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