Kenney wants to fast-track some skilled worker applicants

Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney announced further changes to the federal skilled worker program that are aimed at ensuring applicants meet Canada's labour needs.

Aim is to make Canada more competitive with other 'similarly-placed' countries

Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney announced proposals Tuesday to change the Federal Skilled Worker Program so that certain applications can be fastracked. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney announced further proposed changes to the government's skilled worker program Tuesday that would allow applicants from certain occupations to be fast-tracked.

The Federal Skilled Worker Program is undergoing a number of reforms so that it is faster and more flexible, according to a news release from Kenney's department.

One of the proposed changes announced Tuesday would allow Kenney to use his ministerial authority to place a priority on a specific field such as medicine, so existing applications from doctors would be processed first regardless of where they fall in the pool of applicants.

The priority occupations would be set out in ministerial instructions, which are typically issued for limited periods of time.

Kenney is also proposing changes to the rules that would allow new regulations to apply retroactively to people whose applications have already been submitted.

The government says the changes would help ensure that immigrants are chosen based on Canada's current labour needs and priorities.

"Canada risks losing the global competition for talent as potential immigrants choose to take their skills to other countries with more responsive immigration systems, rather than remain in the queue for years to have their application processed here," Kenney said in the statement.

"All of the changes we are exploring will make Canada more competitive with other similarly-placed countries and more attractive to the best and brightest from around the world, and will better match our immigration system with the best interests of the Canadian economy," he said.

Kenney had already announced his department's intentions to change the points system that is used to evaluate applicants under the skilled worker program. Changes are also being made to the education assessment and verification process.

To qualify for the skilled worker program applicants must have experience in one of 29 occupations in demand in Canada, or have a job offer. They must also meet the point system criteria. Doctors, nurses, social workers, chefs, plumbers, welders and other trade workers are on the list of occupations.

On Wednesday, Kenney will be in Toronto to make another announcement, one related to a program designed to attract entrepreneurs to Canada.

The two proposals announced Tuesday will be put into a bill that will be introduced in the House of Commons in the coming months, according to Kenney's office.