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Friday, March 31, 2023

‘Like starting a new life’: Refugees arrive as skilled workers under expanding pilot


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Mulham Alkhalil has been working for a high-end furnishings producer in Toronto since arriving in Canada final yr from Syria by way of Libya.

The 40-year-old, whose job includes working a computer-assisted furnishings slicing and engraving machine, fled Syria in 2012 as a result of he did not need to get entangled within the nation’s ongoing battle by being drafted to obligatory army service.

He first went to Libya however mentioned he wasn’t capable of finding long-term stability there after that nation’s civil battle escalated. In 2019, he determined to hunt refuge elsewhere along with his spouse and three youngsters.

Alkhalil was in a position to safe a job and transfer to Canada along with his household final Might due to a pilot program the federal authorities has expanded to offer refugees with a pathway to resettlement primarily based on their job expertise.

“It is like beginning a brand new life,” he mentioned in a telephone interview. “My youngsters now go to high school, be taught English and interact in social actions … life is steady right here.”

Canada launched the pilot venture in 2018 to herald 10 to fifteen expert refugees. It was prolonged for 2 extra years in 2020 to confess as much as 500 candidates and as of final October, greater than 100 expert refugees and their relations had arrived below this system.

In December, the Immigration Division mentioned it could work with employers to broaden this system to welcome 2,000 expert refugees to fill particular labour shortages in high-demand sectors, together with well being care, expert trades and knowledge know-how.

Federal Immigration Minister Sean Fraser mentioned that month that Ottawa would supply $6.2 million to help organizations serving to refugees apply to come back to Canada as expert employees.

Khoder El-Dassouki, the proprietor of Emanuele Furnishings Design, mentioned Alkhalil was the second worker he employed below the pilot program for expert refugees.

“We can not discover the expert labour that we’re requiring right here in Canada,” he mentioned. “We have been looking and we have been placing adverts everywhere in the nation and we’re simply not getting the proper candidates.”

El-Dassouki, who has had his high-end customized millwork cupboards enterprise for 35 years, mentioned expert employees are important for his firm.

“We’re very particular on the standard and the finesse of the merchandise,” he mentioned.

The pilot program — formally known as the Financial Mobility Pathways Pilot — permits non-profit organizations which might be partnering with the federal government to assist expert refugees abroad join with employers to use for a job.

After candidates obtain a job provide, they will apply to immigrate to Canada by current financial applications utilizing the pilot program.

El-Dassouki mentioned it took greater than a yr to course of the functions of the 2 workers who joined his firm below the pilot program.

“The length of the appliance is manner too lengthy,” he mentioned. “When we now have an software, we want to have anyone right here anyplace between three to 6 months.”

Dana Wagner, co-founder and managing director of TalentLift Canada, a non-profit that helped Alkhalil, mentioned refugees are historically in a position to transfer to Canada and different secure international locations by humanitarian resettlement applications however these have restricted capability in comparison with the excessive variety of refugees searching for resettlement.

The pilot program permits individuals who occur to be refugees and have expertise which might be in demand within the job market to immigrate to Canada below current expert immigration pathways, she mentioned.

“The explanation that we wanted (this pilot program) was as a result of expert visa pathways weren’t constructed for individuals in refugee circumstances,” she mentioned.

“Historically, all of Canada’s expert immigration pathways have required a sound passport to use. That has nothing to do together with your training stage, your work expertise.”

The pilot started to alter some necessities that had been limitations stopping refugees from making use of to come back to Canada as expert employees, together with documentary and monetary limitations.

“When you have an expired passport from Afghanistan or Syria earlier than (the pilot) you simply weren’t eligible, interval,” Wagner mentioned.

“Globally, humanitarian resettlement nonetheless solely helps such a small quantity (of refugees).”

A spokesperson for the federal Immigration Division mentioned the pilot venture goals to deal with labour shortages whereas offering options for refugees who’ve the talents and {qualifications} Canadian employers want.

“It’s an progressive method to welcome extra refugees and their households to Canada, whereas additionally serving to employers fill vital labour shortages,” Michelle Carbert wrote in an announcement.

The federal government is fine-tuning the pilot to make sure it is assembly the wants of candidates, employers and non-governmental organizations, Carbert mentioned.

“We are going to proceed to work with our companions to take a look at extra methods to make it simpler for employers to deliver expert refugees and their households to Canada as financial immigrants,” Carbert mentioned.

The United Nations estimates the variety of refugees in want of resettlement will enhance to greater than two million this yr, up from 1.47 million in 2022, which represents a 36 per cent enhance.

This report by The Canadian Press was first revealed Feb. 27, 2023.

Pavan Kumar
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