Canada’s 2019 federal election and immigration

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Canadians will go to the polls in October to elect a new federal government that may make changes to Canada’s current immigration policy.

The three main political parties in Canada - the Liberals, the Conservative Party and the New Democratic Party (NDP) - all officially declare that they support economic immigration, but there are differences.

Liberals

Under the Liberals, Canadian immigration policies went in a direction that contrasts sharply with the current policies of the United States and many European countries.

The main focus of their policies was the adoption of increased immigration targets, thanks to which Canada would accept over a million new permanent residents by the end of 2021 and bring the country’s immigration rate to almost one percent of its population.

True to their name, they also liberalized immigration policies in order to reduce the time it takes to obtain Canadian citizenship.

During the four years in power, the liberals made important changes to the Express Entry system.

From the moment of coming to power at the end of 2015, we observed a sharp increase in the number of invitations to apply for Canadian permanent residence, or ITAs, issued through the Express Entry system - from 33,782 in 2016 to 86,023 in 2017 and 89,800 in 2018.

The Liberals also made significant changes to the Integrated Ranking System (CRS), which determines the position of the candidate in the Express Entry pool, namely the reduction of the additional points awarded for the job offer.

Until the end of 2016, the availability of a job offer with support for the labor market assessment (LMIA) was awarded an additional 600 points - in effect guaranteeing an invitation to apply for Canadian permanent residence regardless of their main CRS account.

Critics, however, said that this approach favors low-skilled, low-wage labor at the expense of candidates with higher earning potential, which will ultimately bring greater economic benefits to Canada.

At the end of 2016, the liberals responded to these fears and reduced the number of points awarded for a job offer to 200.

This helped candidates with higher levels of human capital, which include age, English and French, education and work experience. Together, they give the so-called base CRS score of the candidate, which can reach a maximum of 600 points.

This led to the fact that the number of invited candidates for the Federal Skilled Worker Class program jumped by almost 400 percent in 2017 thanks to targeted changes to the liberals in CRS.

IRCC also reported that the reduction in the points awarded for the job offer had a “significant impact on the composition of the professions of candidates who received the invitation.”

In 2016, cooks and catering executives entered the top five professions of candidates invited through the Express Entry. In 2017, they dropped to 28th and 14th places respectively.

Conservatives

Conservatives say they advocate for a “fair, orderly, and compassionate” immigration system that would highlight the ability of an immigrant to become self-sufficient and in demand in the Canadian labor market.

“We will directly link the number and skills of people who want to enter Canada through economic programs with the needs of the Canadian economy,” conservative immigration critic Michelle Rempel told reporters earlier this month.

The conservatives did not say whether they would change the CRS Express Entry or the general immigration goals set by the liberals.

Rempel, however, criticized the liberals' approach to setting goals, which she compared to an auction.

NDP

The third major political party in Canada, the PDP, is the left-wing party.

Although the NDP never formed a government, they could maintain the balance of power in a minority government and thereby contribute to the formation of immigration policies.

The NDP has yet to detail its approach to immigration policy, but party views on immigration usually emphasize compassion for immigrants and favorable conditions on issues such as family reunification.

Party green

The party’s 16 political priorities in immigration are based on the idea that Canada is a “fair and open country” and on the belief that new Canadians “are a source of incredible skills and potential for our country”

The Green Party also states that it will establish “realistic criteria for immigrants based on existing employment opportunities for immigrants to Canada.”

Over the past four years, Canada has become a world leader in immigration.

The Canadian immigration system, thanks to the Express Entry system and provincial programs, has broken many records and intends to achieve new ones in the next three years.

All three major Canadian federal political parties call themselves pro immigration.

Growing labor shortages across the country and wide public support for the economic benefits of immigration mean that this position is likely to be maintained.

The big question is how?