Question Period: Immigrant Entrepreneurs

By: The Hon. Amina Gerba

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Hon. Amina Gerba: Minister, the immigrant entrepreneur program requires investments — for example, purchasing a business — before applicants even know whether their work permit application has been approved. However, investing in Canada does not guarantee that your immigration application will be approved. Minister, your website states that immigrants are selected on the basis of their potential contribution to the country’s economy. Can you tell us what measures your department is putting in place to increase the number of immigrant entrepreneurs who could contribute to our country’s prosperity?

[English]

Hon. Sean Fraser, P.C., M.P., Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship: Thank you very much. This is an important question. For those who may not be aware, the quote, I believe, given the description, would have been pulled from a description of how our Express Entry system operates in Canada.

The Express Entry system scores people based on a number of factors: their education, work history, age and language competencies. What we see is that people who have a suite of skills have a higher score and are more likely to be invited to apply to come to Canada as a permanent resident.

There are some changes we can make to the system to attract workers who will make an even bigger contribution, not solely based on their scores but also by matching them with the regional needs or sector-by-sector needs of the economy. Those are the flexibilities I discussed in Bill C-19 that were recently adopted by the House of Commons.

In addition, though — and this is important, building on my answer to Senator Deacon’s question earlier — with respect to the Start-up Visa Program, we have an opportunity for growth, in my opinion. I want to be careful not to allow people to have a “golden passport” where they make an investment and can become Canadian. I don’t think that’s reasonable. However, if we can look at the rules to determine who is coming to set up a business that’s going to employ people in Canada and that will have a lasting impact on our communities, then we should examin how we can make revisions to the program to achieve those ends while still promoting high-growth sectors, such as the tech and innovation space.

It’s not easy to nail down the specifics of a policy that will have all those outcomes, but we will do that through consultation and collaboration with the sectors that have the greatest opportunity to use those streams to bring people here to start businesses that will employ Canadians.

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