Greek Crisis and Canadian Immigration

By James Metcalfe | February 13, 2012

 James Metcalfe – Pace Immigration: First it was Iceland, then Ireland, and now Greece. All have seen their economic bubbles burst, and the fallout has been an increase in unemployment and a tightening of credit to pay down accumulated debts. For the citizens of these countries, is emigration to Canada, Australia, or another country, the answer?

With a strong Icelandic community which can be traced back to the 19th Century, the province of Manitoba made a concerted effort to recruit Icelanders to meet their goal of growing their population through immigration. Considering the small population of Iceland, combined with a well established community of Icelanders in Manitoba, this was a natural strategy for Manitoba.

Similarly, Ireland has been exporting its citizenry for centuries. From the potato famines of the 19th century and earlier, Canada, the USA and Australia have been the favored places for the Irish to go to outside the British Isles. Times may not be as tough in Ireland because the Celtic Tiger, as the economy of Ireland came to be known, relied on Poles, Lithuanians and others from the former Eastern Bloc to provide the manpower to fuel the growth in their economy. When the economy collapsed, the first to go were the “guest workers.” Due to Canada’s restrictive immigration policies and backlog of applications, Canada was not on the radar of these guest workers.

Recently, there has been some activity by companies in Western Canada in recruiting Irish skilled workers by participating on job fares in Ireland. The results are not known and probably will not show up for some time due to the delays in the system. In any event, I believe the numbers will be measured in the hundreds and not the thousands who are affected.

Greece has been dying a slow economic death for over a year, and only on February 12 did the end of the Grecian lifestyle reach reality. Greeks, too, have been migrants for centuries with sizable populations to be found in Montreal and Toronto in Canada. By far the most popular destinations for Greeks is Australia, with its more temperate climate. In 2011, the Australian government sponsored job fares in Athens recognizing the availability of a motivated and adaptable work force.

With Canada’s huge backlog of applicants who wish to come here, it is highly unlikely that the Canadian government will take any special measures to ease the selection criteria for Greeks, or take any other special measures. While we have had a number of inquiries from Canadians of Greek origin wishing to bring relatives to Canada, there has been no groundswell of applicants. The only option available to qualify under Canada’s restrictive regime is to arrange offer of employment either as Temporary or Permanent Workers. Unfortunately just having a relative in Canada is not enough to make a difference.