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Canada expands immigration
January 25, 2023

Canada doubles immigration program for out-of-status construction workers in the GTA 

The Government of Canada continues to deliver innovative immigration measures, such as creating pathways for out-of-status migrants, to help Canadian employers address critical labour shortages.

In 2019, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), in partnership with the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC), launched a permanent residence pilot program for 500 out-of-status workers in the construction industry in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).

Building on the success of this initiative, Peter Fonseca, Member of Parliament for Mississauga East-Cooksville and Julie Dzerowicz, Member of Parliament for Davenport, on behalf of the Honourable Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, recently announced that IRCC is extending and expanding the pilot program, doubling its scope to 1,000 out-of-status construction workers in the GTA.

This program acknowledges the critical role that construction workers play in building and growing our cities, and offers them and their families a path to permanent residency so that they can stay long-term. This program is one of a number of new measures implemented to address labour shortages in Canada by ensuring that we bring and retain the workers we need to grow the economy and build our communities.

The program promotes greater stability in the construction industry and ensures that skilled workers in Canada continue to address critical housing development needs. Just as important, this initiative will help bring a larger number of workers out of the underground economy, which benefits Canada’s world-renowned programs and services (like the Canada Child Benefit, Old Age Security and Employment Insurance).

Eligible individuals have until January 2, 2024, to apply for permanent residence and can include their spouses, partners and dependent children in their application. Potential applicants will continue to submit their names to the CLC, who will determine their eligibility before referring them to IRCC.

The Government of Canada will take into account the advice from consultations with academics, non-governmental organizations, provinces and territories as we explore new and innovative ways to regularize the status of undocumented workers in Canada.

Quick facts:

  • Immigration accounts for almost 100% of Canada’s labour force growth. Roughly 75% of Canada’s population growth comes from immigration, mostly in the economic category. By 2036, immigrants will represent up to 30% of Canada’s population, compared to 20.7% in 2011.
  • Canada’s aging population means that the worker-to-retiree ratio is expected to be 2 to 1 by 2035 while, 50 years ago, it was 7 to 1.
  • Canada has issued over 645,000 work permits between January and October 2022—nearly 4 times more than the 163,000 issued over the same period in 2021.
  • Immigrants account for 36% of physicians and 33% of business owners with paid staff and 41% of engineers.
  • In the Fall Economic Statement, the government committed an additional $50 million in 2022–2023 for IRCC to address ongoing application backlogs, speed up processing and allow skilled newcomers to fill critical labour gaps faster.
  • Since the launch of the out-of-status construction workers in the GTA pilot in July 2019, 452 individuals have been accepted as permanent residents (190 principal applicants and 262 dependants).
  • As a national organization that represents numerous construction unions, the CLC has been a critical partner in the pilot, helping to identify eligible applicants.
  • Under the pilot, applicants who have significant work experience in construction occupations in the GTA, family members in Canada, a referral letter from the CLC and no reason for being inadmissible other than overstaying their visa and working without authorization may be able to apply for permanent residence in Canada.
  • IRCC is exploring broader regularization pathways for undocumented migrants and their families. Pathways to permanent residence will offer more opportunities for individuals to enter or stay in the job market and fill labour shortages.

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