By Tobi Cohen, the Vancouver Sun | Link to Article
Canada plans to accept as many as 10,000 more skilled workers into the country in 2012, in part to help deal with a massive backlog in applications.
By year's end, between 47,000 and 47,400 skilled workers will have been accepted under the program.
"The government's No. 1 priority remains the economy. We recognize the importance of immigration to our labour market and we value the contributions of skilled immigrants who add to our international competitiveness," Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said Thursday.
By 2008, the backlog in federal skilled worker applications had reached 650,000. In 2010, the government capped new applications in a bid to get control over the burgeoning numbers and by June of this year, the backlog was cut to 314,000.
The boost in numbers next year is needed to meet market demands and to help reduce the backlog.
Kenney has suggested skilled workers represent the future of immigration for Canada and a review of the program last year found most had jobs three years after arriving. Some 95 per cent of employers surveyed said federal skilled workers were meeting or exceeding their expectations.
Kenney has been dribbling out figures all week about Canada's immigration targets for 2012.
Kenney also has announced small increases in the number of students and skilled temporary foreign workers who are fast-tracked to permanent residency through the Canadian Experience Class stream.
But overall immigration levels are expected to remain steady at 240,000 to 265,000 for the sixth consecutive year.
Opposition critics argue Canada must boost its overall numbers if it's going to keep pace with labour force needs.
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