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Immigration Minister Jason Kenney is marking a milestone in the Harper government's efforts to recruit and retain international students and temporary foreign workers as immigrants under the Canada Experience Class. (Fred Chartrand/Canadian Press)

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney announced a new benchmark Friday in his government's attempts to recruit and retain international students and temporary foreign workers who've lived in Canada.  

The Canada Experience Class – a centrepiece of the government's economic immigration reforms – has admitted 20,000 people since its creation in 2008.  

"For too long we have seen too many newcomers struggling to survive in our economy," Kenney told a news conference in Toronto. "That simply isn't acceptable. Especially in an economy with large labour shortages."

The 20,000th person to beome a permanent resident under the program is Gaurav Gore, a University of Toronto MBA student, who now works for a major Canadian bank.    He attended Friday's announcement.

At a time when the world's economic outlook is shaky, the Harper government continues to try to secure Canada's long-term prosperity by emphasizing economic immigration.  

The Canada Experience Class was designed to better attract and retain the "best and brightest" who come to Canada as international students or temporary foreign workers.  

Kenney also announced that he's speeding up the process for temporary foreign workers already working here: now they will need to show they have only one year of Canadian work experience, instead of two

Before the category was created, foreign students and temporary workers had to return to their home countries and get in line, often for years, if they wanted to come to Canada permanently.  

"Until we created the Canada Experience Class four years ago, when we had bright young foreign students come to Canada and complete their degrees or diplomas, we then asked them at the end of their academic program to leave Canada. And if they wanted to immigrate, to get in the back of a seven- or eight-year-long queue in our skilled worker program," Kenney said.

The government says this program has become Canada's fastest-growing immigration stream. The government marked the 10,000th permanent resident in this class last November.