Why does Canada’s federal government
launch economic class pilot programs?
Since 2012 the federal government’s
preferred approach has been to launch
pilots rather than introduce permanent
Since a 2012 reform to Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA), Canada’s immigration minister has had the legal authority to introduce new economic class pilot programs to welcome immigrants that can help address economic and labour force priority areas across the country.
Other than one exception, every new federal economic class program since that reform has been introduced as a pilot, including several ones launched in 2019, and two new ones that could be introduced in 2020.
The rationale for pilots
Prior to the introduction of the pilot program approach the federal government needed to table new economic class programs to Parliament. These programs would then be reviewed, debated, and voted on before they could be opened up to prospective immigrants. This process, while democratic, could also be slow. When it comes to Canada’s immigration system, slowness can be problematic and make it even more difficult for employers to fill jobs in the midst of skilled labour shortages.