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BREAKING: IRCC announces new selection categories for Express Entry candidates – Canada Immigration News



Published on May 31st, 2023 at 10:35am EDT
Updated on May 31st, 2023 at 03:34pm EDT


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IRCC has announced new categories for Express Entry draws.

Canada’s Immigration Minister, Sean Fraser, has announced the launch of category-based selection draws for Express Entry candidates.

Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will be focusing on Express Entry candidates who have a strong French language proficiency or work experience in the following fields:

  • healthcare
  • science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) professions
  • trades, such as carpenters, plumbers and contractors
  • transport
  • agriculture and agri-food

Find out if you’re eligible for category-based draws

The minister says that allowing IRCC to invite more skilled workers in these targeted professions will support Canada’s commitment to welcoming in-demand professionals into communities across the country.

A full list of eligible occupations under the new categories is available here.

Draws under the new categories are expected to start later this summer.

Why are there new Express Entry categories?

The new categories are aimed to fill vacant positions throughout Canada. Immigration is seen as a vital component for reducing the labour shortage as well as growing the prominence of the French language in French minority communities outside of Quebec.

“Everywhere I go, I’ve heard loud and clear from employers across the country who are experiencing chronic labour shortages” says Fraser. “These changes to the Express Entry system will ensure that they have the skilled workers they need to grow and succeed. We can also grow our economy and help businesses with labour shortages while also increasing the number of French-proficient candidates to help ensure the vitality of French-speaking communities. Put simply, Canada’s immigration system has never been more responsive to the country’s social or economic needs.”

Category-based draws were expected to begin this year following changes made in June 2022 to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. The changes give the minister the authority to select immigrants based on key attributes that support Canada’s economic priorities.

How were the categories chosen?

The categories were chosen following legislative requirements that the Minister participate in public consultation with provinces and territories, members of industry, unions, employers, workers, worker advocacy groups, settlement provider organizations, and immigration researchers and practitioners.

Each year, IRCC will report to Parliament on

  • the categories chosen the previous year
  • why and how they were chosen
  • the instructions to establish a category
  • the number of invitations issued for each category

What is Express Entry?

Express Entry was established in 2015 to respond to Canada’s changing economic and labour market needs. It is an application management system that oversees three economic immigration programs, the Federal Skilled Workers Program, the Federal Skilled Trades Program and the Canadian Experience Class.

These programs use the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) to assign a score to candidates based on human capital factors such as work experience, language ability, occupation, education and more. The candidates with the highest overall CRS score were the most likely to receive an Invitation to Apply for permanent residence.

Find out if you’re eligible for category-based draws

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LCBO stores reopen across Ontario after two-week strike by workers



TORONTO – Hundreds of Ontario’s liquor stores reopened Tuesday following a strike that lasted more than two weeks, but the fighting between the union representing workers and the government dragged on.

About 10,000 Liquor Control Board of Ontario workers had returned Monday to prepare for the opening of nearly 700 stores after they walked off the job on July 5.

The Ontario Public Service Employees Union, which represents LCBO workers, had said the labour dispute was largely about Premier Doug Ford’s plan to allow convenience and grocery stores to sell ready-to-drink cocktails. The expanded sales, it said, was an existential threat to the workers’ future.

The sniping continued Tuesday as the union took umbrage with Ford’s comments from Monday, when he said the strike should never have happened.

The union said it made “significant gains” as a direct result of the strike.

“LCBO workers are proud of what they achieved in this contract, which wouldn’t have been possible without the strike,” said Colleen MacLeod, chair of the union’s LCBO bargaining unit. “They’re also happy to get back to work serving their communities again.”

The three-year deal, which the LCBO workers ratified over the weekend, sees an eight per cent wage increase over three years, the conversion of about 1,000 casual employees to permanent part-time positions and no store closures over the course of the agreement.

The union said converting those casual positions into 1,000 permanent part-time jobs and the guarantee of no closures for the duration of the contract was not on the table before the strike.

As part of the reopening, the LCBO said there will no longer be limits placed on online orders, but those orders could take up to three weeks for delivery.

Outside one LCBO in Toronto’s west end, Jay Brafman lambasted both sides for the strike.

“I think (the union) basically held hostage Ontarians and that’s not the right way to get more out of your job,” he said.

Brafman, a fan of the government’s plan to expand alcohol sales into convenience stores, also criticized Ford.

“If he really wanted to show some courage, he would have liquidated the LCBO,” he said.

Brafman, a vodka drinker, was put out during the strike as the LCBO is the main seller of spirits across the province.

“It cost me a ton of money having to go out to bars if I wanted to drink,” he said, adding that he’s happy the stores are open again.

Ford’s previous plan was to get beer, wine and ready-to-drink cocktails in convenience stores and all grocery stores by 2026, completing a 2018 election campaign promise. But in May he announced that would instead happen this year, capping speculation of an early election that Ford did not outright deny.

Convenience stores will be allowed to sell beer, wine and coolers starting Sept. 5 while newly licensed grocery stores can do so starting Oct. 31.

An “early implementation agreement” with The Beer Store involves the province paying the company up to $225 million to help it keep stores open and workers employed. The province is also giving brewers a rebate on an LCBO fee that normally brings in $45 million a year, and it is giving retailers a 10 per cent wholesale discount.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 23, 2024.

The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.

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Latest facts about British Columbia’s wildfire situation on July 23




These are the facts about British Columbia’s wildfire situation, according to the BC Wildfire Service dashboard at 11.30 a.m. Tuesday.

Active fires: 380

Wildfires of note: Four. Shetland Creek fire, Kamloops Fire Centre; Antler Creek fire, Cariboo Fire Centre; Aylwin Creek fire, Southeast Fire Centre; Komonko Creek fire, Southeast Fire Centre.

Fires started in last 24 hours: 78

Out-of-control fires: 228

Active fire causes: Lightning 81 per cent, human 7 per cent, undetermined 12 per cent (percentages are rounded)

Firefighting staff deployed: 1,041

Aircraft deployed: 183

Area burned since April 1: 7,534 square kilometres (recalculated by BC Wildfire Service)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 23, 2024.

The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.

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Jasper evacuees forced into B.C. to flee fires told to make U-turn to Alberta for aid




EDMONTON – Thousands of wildfire evacuees forced from Jasper National Park into British Columbia along smoke-choked mountain roads Monday night were directed Tuesday to make a wide U-turn and head home if they needed a place to stay.

Alberta fire officials said B.C. has its hands full with its own wildfires and evacuations.

“The issue is the severity of wildfire activity and evacuations in B.C. proper,” Stephen Lacroix, managing director of the Alberta Emergency Management Agency, told reporters during a video conference.

“They had no capacity to house Albertans.”

Alberta Public Safety Minister Mike Ellis said reception centres were being set up in Grande Prairie to the north and Calgary to the south.

Ellis told evacuees to take massive detours, either through Prince George, B.C., proceeding north and east to Grande Prairie, or south to Kamloops before going east to Calgary.

“One fire is approximately 12 kilometres south of Jasper on both sides of the (Athabasca) River and wind may exacerbate the situation,” Ellis told reporters.

“It’s a challenging time for all impacted.”

Everyone in Jasper National Park — tourists, hikers, campers, boaters — along with 4,700 residents of the Jasper townsite were ordered out late Monday night as wildfires pinched off escape routes to the east and south.

The result was a long, slow-moving line of cars and trucks heading west through the mountains to B.C. in darkness, swirling smoke, soot and ash.

Many evacuees sought refuge for the night in Valemount, B.C., a town of 1,000 about 120 kilometres west of Jasper.

“The community’s pretty full,” said town administrator Anne Yanciw in an interview Tuesday morning.

“Every parking lot, boulevard, side of the road, field … anything that looks like it could fit a vehicle is full.”

Some evacuees spent the night on the floor of the local arena. Others bunked down at the Legion. A local church was serving a pancake breakfast while drinks, snacks, information and a respite were on offer at Valemount’s community hall and visitors’ centre.

“It’s all hands on deck,” Yanciw said.

She said most travellers were beginning to make their way down the smoky road — slowly, but without incident.

“The hope is that most of them will find the long way back to Alberta,” Yanciw said.

Fire officials said forecast windy conditions were expected to make Tuesday a challenging day for crews.

The province has been baking and sweltering for days in 30 C-plus temperatures.

The province reported 170 wildfires burning across Alberta, 56 of which were out of control.

There was a provincewide fire ban in the forest protection area.

The province estimated 17,500 Albertans were out of their homes from the Jasper fire as well as those threatening remote northern communities.

On Monday night, photos and video shared on social media illuminated a midnight cavalcade of bumper-to-bumper cars and trucks, headlights on, red tail lights glowing, cars inching, stopping, starting, crawling through swirling tendrils of acrid smoke toward B.C.

“It’s wall-to-wall traffic,” said Edmonton resident Carolyn Campbell in a phone interview from her vehicle.

“(The smoke) is pretty thick. We’ve got masks in the car.”

Campbell said it took hours to move just seven kilometres. She said they had enough gas but worried for others who fled with little in the tank.

The Jasper townsite and the park’s main east-west artery, Highway 16, were caught in a fiery pincer. Fires threatening from the northeast cut off highway access east to Edmonton.

Another fire roaring up from the south forced the closure of the north-south Icefields Parkway. That left one route open — west to B.C.

The Municipality of Jasper and Jasper National Park said in an updated emergency alert Tuesday morning the evacuation from the townsite and the park is “progressing well” and people should continue to follow directives as the majority of traffic is being directed west on Highway 16.

“Only when roadside fire conditions permit, small groups of escorted vehicles will be directed east on Highway 16,” the town and park officials said in the alert.

Jasper National Park is the largest national park in the Canadian Rockies, home to campgrounds, scenic rivers and lakes, and extensive trail networks.

In Hinton, close to the east boundary of the park, Mayor Nicholas Nissen reported only a trickle of evacuees into the community.

Nissen said the sky was blue with less smoke than Monday.

“You would almost have no indication that there’s a disaster in the community next door, just with the way Hinton is right now,” Nissen said in an interview.

“With that highway closure, we’re not seeing the volumes of people we saw during evacuations last year.”

Nissen said the town has sent eight firefighters, two fire trucks and other equipment to assist in battling the blaze.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 23, 2024.

— with files from Bob Weber in Edmonton and Jeremy Simes in Regina

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