Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino visited Germany this week. The goal was to share what Canada has learned from an immigration program that helps newcomers before they arrive.
At the invitation of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Mendicino took part in a summit looking at best practices for integrating migrants. Canada appeared the only foreign country the Germans invited to take part in the summit.
“Our friends in Germany see Canada as a role model – a country that has achieved success,” Mendicino told CBC News.
Canada’s pre-arrival settlement services provide newcomers with information and supports, including employment assistance, while they’re still overseas. The goal of the program is to better prepare immigrants to ease into Canadian society. It can achieve it by educating them about life in Canada and navigating roadblocks they could encounter.
The internal government audit in 2018 found that while the program was valuable in helping newcomers. However, it had a low uptake due to a lack of widespread awareness about the services available. It concluded there was a “missed opportunity.”
In response to that finding, the government set aside $113 million to raise the profile of the program. Mendicino said a recent survey showed that 85 percent of people who used the services said the program helped them find them a job. Moreover, about 88 percent said the program helped them get foreign credentials recognized in Canada.
Boost for productivity, growth through immigration
“If we are able to facilitate integration by speeding up the processes and helping immigrants to land a job, then that will contribute to productivity and growth. It will mean that one more job vacancy is filled and that will contribute to a stronger economy as a whole,” Mendicino said.
The minister said Canada’s pre-arrival settlement services program has been around for about 20 years; over that period it underwent various refinements and adjustments.
Mediciono Described Canada and Germany as like-minded countries. He also added that the two nations have shared values and an understanding about immigrants; he believes that good policies lead to better outcomes for both the newcomers and the country’s economy.
International community has been praising Canada for programs that attract and retain workers to communities outside large urban centres. And this, in particularly, links immigration to labour gaps.
“What we’re discovering is that some of our strongest G7 partners like Germany are starting to look at Canada as a role model. So that tells me that we certainly have been recognized for having a specific expertise in this area,” he said.
Last year, the OECD praised Canada’s economic migration system as one of the most successful in the world. It said other countries see Canada as a “benchmark”.
Programs that assist in successful immigration and attract skilled workers play crucial role in meeting the economic challenges of the future.
“We will really benefit from continuing to grow our country and our economy through immigration; that’s part of the narrative that I shared with our friends in Germany,” Medicino said.