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Study finds Canada could benefit from giving more low-skilled workers permanent residence

Ryerson University recently conducted a study examining the contribution low-skilled immigrant workers make to the Canadian economy. They then analysed this against the projected labour needs in the country over the coming decade. The study’s findings indicate that Canada should do more to help low-skilled temporary residents in Canada transition to becoming permanent residents.

Why is low-skilled labour so important?

Canada welcomes around 600,000 temporary residents each year to fill short-term or seasonal labour demand. Of this group, the vast majority of workers who are able to transition to permanent resident status fall under the “highly skilled” labour category. However, as this study and the recent pandemic demonstrate, highly skilled workers are not what will sustain the country.

Throughout the pandemic, the country has run on low-skilled workers such as grocery store clerks, hospital cleaners and farm labourers who filled essential services to keep us afloat. Canadian-born workers have generally been more reluctant to fill these roles, so temporary residents have filled in the gaps.

Over the next 10 years, the following industries are expected to boom – as is the demand for low-skilled workers:

  • Construction
  • Food service
  • Childcare
  • Family services
  • Commercial transportation

In addition, as more and more baby boomers reach retirement age, there will be a higher demand for low-skilled workers in these sectors:

  • Health care
  • Social services

Pathways to permanent residence for low-skilled workers

Some of the main avenues for temporary, low-skilled workers to gain permanent residence are the following:

  • Between now and November 5, 2021, the Canadian government has opened opportunities for temporary essential workers in health care and other sectors to gain permanent residence.
  • Workers in British Columbia can apply for nomination for permanent residence through the British Columbia Provincial Nominee Program.
  • The In-Demand Skills Stream is an option for low-skilled workers in Ontario.
  • The Atlantic Immigration Pilot is a similar program for low-skilled workers in provinces along the Atlantic coast.

The main takeaway of the study is that Canada should do even more to open doors for permanent residence to low-skilled workers. This category of immigrants is likely to become an even bigger cornerstone of the Canadian economy moving forward. If you are a temporary worker seeking permanent status in Canada, now – more than ever – may be a good time to explore your options.