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Famine monument in Toronto Photo by: Google Images

Canada becoming a more attractive choice for Irish immigrants than US

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Famine monument in Toronto Photo by: Google Images

With Ireland’s economy still struggling, many native Irish people are flocking to Canada in hopes of finding employment. Just last year, there were 5,200 Irish temporary workers in Canada, up almost 1,000 from 2010.

The Herald News in Canada reports that Canada is now rivaling America in terms of attracting Irish immigrants. Boasting a more flexible immigration policy, Canada is gaining more and more temporary Irish workers.

"The word over in Ireland for the last two to three years is that Canada is the place to go," said Eamonn O’Loghlin, who came to Canada from Ireland 36 years ago and remains involved with several Irish-Canadian organizations.

"They can hit the ground running here,” added O’Loghlin. “They are all very well educated, there’s no language barrier, no real cultural issues and they have a very dynamic and caring Irish diaspora here already so there’s someone here on the ground.”

A column in the New York Daily News on Thursday said that with its stricter immigration policies, America is losing out on ample opportunity to welcome in educated Irish immigrants - something that is to the gain of our economic rivals.

On Sunday, the Irish Canadian Immigration Centre had its formal opening, a significant marker in the relations between Ireland and Canada to mutually support the waves of immigration.

“Canadians are opening their arms to new immigrants and I do think that’s why we’re seeing more to come here right now," said Cathy Murphy, executive director of the Irish Canadian Immigration Centre.

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While Canada has a long history of welcoming in Irish immigrants, the reasons for Irish immigration have always fluctuated over the decades. Murphy said, “I think the older generation feels quite a lot of empathy that the younger generation has to leave Ireland because of jobs, there isn’t a choice. They are not coming for adventure, they are coming out of necessity.”

The Irish government has been working to make sure its natives are well supported in Canada after they leave Ireland. In 2011,the Irish government spent close to $14.8 million on grants to support Irish people around the world; about $190,000 of that went to Canada, including to the new immigration centre.

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney is hoping more of Irish immigrants make their temporary visits permanent. "We’d like to give them a more realistic choice of staying here as permanent residents," he said. "We’re happy to be in competition with Ireland for the talents of their young people."

Last year, only 665 Irish immigrants became permanent residents in Canada.The Canadian government is looking at changing the working holiday visa program commonly used by the Irish to allow them to apply for permanent residency sooner.

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