Canada conducted a draw more than five times larger than any seen before in the history of Express Entry on Saturday, rewriting the record books.
In conducting the historic Canadian Experience Class draw, Ottawa said it was “pioneering new ways to engage those who are already here and hard at work” during the COVID-19 crisis.
“Their status may be temporary, but their contributions are lasting – and we’re hoping to help more of them stay permanently,” said a statement from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).
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Stakeholders had been wondering what was afoot after IRCC first missed its regular two-weekly slot for Express Entry draws on February 3, and then conducted one draw aimed at Provincial Nominee Program candidates on February 10.
Was Canada moving to reduce the number of Express Entry ITAs issued because of the lingering coronavirus pandemic?
On Saturday, IRCC delivered its answer, issuing 27,332 Invitations to Apply to CEC candidates with Comprehensive Ranking System scores as low as 75. These candidates now have 90 days to submit a full application.
Successful CEC candidates have at least one year of Canadian work experience, have proven that they can contribute to the economy and have paid taxes, IRCC says.
Before Saturday, candidates sat in the Express Entry pool with 450 points were wondering if they would ever receive a coveted ITA. In one swoop, IRCC changed the lives of thousands of candidates, of which it says approximately 90 percent are already in Canada.
“This means they’re unaffected by current travel restrictions and won’t face the same barriers as overseas applicants when gathering the required documentation and undergoing criminality and medical screening,” IRCC says.
That means around 24,600 people here temporarily took a major step towards permanent status as a result of the bold move. When compared to the 2021 target of 401,000 newcomers, you can see why IRCC needed to take action.
Without immigration, Canada’s economic recovery from COVID-19 will be much slower and more arduous than with the help of newcomers.
But with international travel restrictions set to remain for the foreseeable future, Canada has moved to tap the only reliable source of newcomers it has: those already here.
“From large companies to major labour unions, Canadians agree that immigration is essential to our economy,” IRCC says.
“One in three businesses with employees is owned by an immigrant, creating thousands of jobs from construction to retail.
“Throughout the pandemic, newcomers have played an outsized role in Canada’s response, accounting for over one third of our doctors and pharmacists.
“Put simply, immigration is crucial to Canada’s short-term recovery and long-term prosperity.”
The need for leadership and decisive action in these times of uncertainty is clear. At least on immigration, Ottawa has shown it is prepared to go all in.