The Irish-friendly Canadian work visa system has  been slammed by a Canadian immigration professor, who says the Irish should not be given preferential treatment.

Professor Audrey Macklin, a professor of law with a special interest in immigration at the University of Toronto, told the Irish Times the Canadian government should not be giving special treatment to Ireland.

“I’m neither for nor against Irish coming to Canada. But if there are lots of qualified Irish out there, and Canada needs more people, why not simply enlarge the quota for the admission of all economic immigrants and let the Irish apply under that?”

Macklin said  migrants from  the Philippines and Mexico who come in on temporary work permits find it very difficult to stay permanently in Canada, while it is easier – though not guaranteed – for those with International Experience Canada (IEC) visas.

Ireland’s IEC visas have grown from 5,000 years two years ago to 10,000 this year. In 2012 Canada’s immigration minister, Jason Kenney, visited Ireland and made it clear the country wanted skilled Irish emigrants. Amazingly, Ireland now has more IEC’s than Britain, which shares commonwealth membership with Canada.

The ties between the countries are growing. In addition, Aer Lingus has announced a year-round direct route from Toronto to Dublin and WestJet will fly from Newfoundland to Dublin.

However, the outreach to Ireland is also disputed by Canadian employment experts.

Nancy Schaefer, President of Youth Employment Services, says the Canadian government should be investing in young Canadians  first.

But Cathy Murphy of the Irish Canadian Emigration Center in Toronto says the problem for Canada is they need skilled help now.

“Canada is starting to train young people in trades,” she told The  Times. “The problem is we need a skilled and ready labor force now. There is a gap.”

During March two Canadian work fairs will be held in Ireland, one in Cork and the other in Dublin.

Stephen McLarnon, director of the Working Abroad Expo, says the opportunities are limitless “provided you’re willing to work and willing to work anywhere.”

He says Australia is falling behind Canada as the preferred destination for emigrating Irish.

“Canada is a more open and welcoming society when it comes to immigrants. For those who are serious about starting or progressing their career, head to Edmonton, Calgary, Regina, Saskatoon, Winnipeg or St John’s. In the major migrant capitals of Vancouver and Toronto competition for jobs is tougher.”

Irish immigrant leaders note that, run by Kerry immigrant Ruairi Spillane, is a very popular web site with those planning to move to Canada, with bigger numbers from Ireland consulting it every month.