Ontario should put skilled immigrants on the fast track to live and work in the province, PC Leader Tim Hudak says.
The Ontario Progressive Conservatives would speed up the citizenship application process for “talented” individuals in Ontario universities, he said.
“If there’s a top student at University of Toronto from India who is at the head of the engineering program, I want to offer her an accelerated path to citizenship to live in this country, to get a good job here,” Hudak said. “If there’s a top student at medical school at Queen’s University from China, let’s offer an accelerated path to make this the new home and work in our medical system.
“Let’s say Ontario’s actually open again for the best and the brightest in our schools to make them permanent residents and then citizens of this great country,” he added.
For those new Canadians who are struggling to get their credentials recognized, the PCs would create an accelerated path that cuts through the red tape, Hudak said.
Hudak was joined at a Scarborough campaign stop Tuesday by federal Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, a former colleague in the Mike Harris government.
Baird said he meets a lot people through his travels who want to move to Canada to create a new life for their families.
“But it always upsets me when the first places they rhyme off where they want to go are Alberta and Saskatchewan because far too often that’s where the jobs are,” Baird said. “What we need is an action-oriented leader with a plan that will create jobs right here in Ontario.”
Hudak was criticized during the 2011 provincial election campaign when he spoke out against a “foreign worker” program.
This time around, the PC Leader said he is worried that skilled and talented new Canadians are looking to settle in other provinces instead of Ontario because the job opportunities are stronger.
Hudak noted that his own grandfather arrived in Toronto from the former Czechoslovakia, and he said that if elected, he would be the first Ontario premier whose family came from outside the British Isles.
Former NDP premier Bob Rae’s family hailed from England and Scotland, but his paternal grandfather immigrated to Scotland from Lithuania.
Liberal Citizenship and Immigration Minister Michael Coteau said Ontario remains the top destination for newcomers to Canada — more than Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba combined.
The Ontario Liberals have established bridge training programs across the province for immigrants who seek to have their credentials recognized here, Coteau said.