Getting a job when you get to Canada is about to get easier for more immigrants, says Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney.

The Canadian Immigration Integration Project (CIIP), which began in 2007 as a pilot program, is getting $15 million over the next three years to expand its services in India, China and the Philippines, as well as to open a new office in London, England. The new office will serve prospective immigrants in Scandinavia, Britain and the Gulf States.

The CIIP offers prospective immigrants a variety of services, from seminars on what the labour market is like in Canada and how to apply for a job to how to get their university credentials recognized.

“We want newcomers to be able to use their skills as soon as possible in Canada,” Kenney said Thursday, pointing out that in the past immigrants arrived at the airport only to sink or swim.

The service has helped 7,000 people so far, Kenney said, rattling off examples of recent immigrants who successfully got jobs in Canada after being helped by the CIIP.

One problem, Kenney said, is only one third of immigrants know the service exists, sometimes because their immigration counsellor didn’t transmit the government advisory.

New Democratic Party immigration critic Olivia Chow welcomed Kenney’s announcement but said it is a half measure that doesn’t go far enough. Chow said he should expand mentorship, bridging and internships programs for immigrants in Canada and expand opportunities for new immigrants in the federal government.

Bloc Quebecois critic Thierry St-Cyr said it was a positive step but the federal government should ensure that immigrants know about Quebec’s differences.

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