Ireland’s quota of Canadian work visas snapped up in matter of days

Canada's Immigration Minister Jason Kenney speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament …It appears Canada is becoming a hot spot for unemployed Irish workers willing to leave the Emerald Isle in hopes of a better life. And it may have been the dulcet tones and siren song of Jason Kenney that fed the wave.

The National Post reports that Irish workers seeking jobs in Canada spiked this year, with the country's annual quota of 6,350 "working holiday" visas being snapped up in less than three days.

“It’s staggering; we all knew that the demand was going to be very high this year, but I don’t think anybody anticipated this,” Cathy Murphy, director of the Irish Canadian Immigration Centre, told the newspaper.

The Post reports that 5,350 visas were issued in Ireland last year, and it took five months for them all to be issued.

The number of work quotas available to Irish travellers has increased in each of the last two years, from 5,000 in 2011 to 5,350 last year to the current 6,350.

The Sun reports that the quota will almost double to 10,000 next year.

[ Related: New visa program launched to woo start-up businesses, entrepreneurs to Canada ]

The visas don’t guarantee citizenship, but a little on-the-ground experience never hurts those looking to secure permanent residency.

Intriguingly, some of the bump is being credited to Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, who visited Ireland last year and appeared on a popular late-night talk show.

“It’s a fun and amazing country; you can go and spend six months on a ski hill … and then go to Montreal and learn French,” Mr. Kenney told the Late Late Show, according to the Post.

Some in Ireland complain that the exodus is part of an Irish brain drain, caused by its economic collapse in 2008. While thousands of Irish come to Canada for a chance at temporary work, even more headed to Australia and the United States.

Before his trip last October, Kenney told the Toronto Star that the goal was to raise Canada's profile and compete for some of the "highly educated young Irish going to Australia."

[ Related: Canada to play matchmaker, but romance not guaranteed ]

Meantime, Canada's recruiting goal has been well known in Ireland for years.

The Irish Central news website has articles dating back years about Canada's labour shortage, strong economy (compared to Ireland's troubled one, at least) and booming fisheries and mining industries.

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall also led a trip to Dublin last year to promote the need for skilled workers in his province. He received some criticism from those who felt he was dismissing the aboriginal unemployment issue while making overtures overseas.

That’s really the only issue that comes from the increase of Irish workers. Are Canada’s unemployed being overlooked for those who can come, do the job, and leave again?

Perhaps, but if they are educated, capable and willing to move overseas for the promise of temporary work, Canada shouldn’t stop them.

Exciting news for those who crave an authentic St. Patrick's Day.