Maybe it's something the committee wants to look at in the future. That is, a better alignment between the fee revenues that we bring in and the cost of delivering these programs. I personally don't think that the Canadian taxpayer should have to subsidize the operations of the department, which are essentially providing a benefit to both our visitors and our immigrants. I know those people are prepared to pay the actual cost of processing their applications for the privilege of visiting or immigrating to Canada. That's something I would underscore.
Let me just say, Chairman, that we have launched a kind of initiative of what I would call transformational reform in our immigration policies, the objective of which is to achieve much better economic outcomes through immigration. For too long we have seen too many immigrants dropped into the Canadian labour market to sink or swim, with too many of them, quite frankly, struggling to keep their heads above water. We have a rate of unemployment among newcomers that is substantially higher than that of the general population.
We have noticed that immigrants with a university diploma experience a rate of unemployment that is approximately four times higher than in the general population here in Canada. Furthermore, unemployment among new Canadians is more than 10%. In an economy where there are labour shortages, that's paradoxical. We accept more than a quarter million immigrants each year in an economy where we are experiencing labour shortages. And yet many of these immigrants, including economic immigrants who are chosen based on their human capital, are underemployed in our economy.
There are several reasons for that. The purpose of our reforms is to improve economic opportunities for new Canadians so that, to the greatest extent possible, they can arrange to have employment prior to arriving in Canada. We want to increase the percentage of economic immigrants who already have a job before they come here. Through our recent analysis of the Federal Skilled Workers Program, we noted that those who have already secured a job before arriving in Canada have average earnings of $80,000 after their third year in the country. That is twice as much family income as for immigrants who arrive without an arranged job.
To improve economic outcomes for immigrants, what is needed is a system which is quick, flexible and efficient—one that allows us to be proactive in recruiting and selecting immigrants. The system we inherited and that we have been managing for a number of years now is somewhat rigid and very slow. It has a backlog and application processing times are unacceptable. That is why we have been focussing on speeding up the system.
The only way we can get to a faster and more flexible system is to deal decisively with the huge backlogs that the current government inherited. I know the committee did a very helpful report on backlogs. You understand the issue well. This explains the context of the powers that are proposed in Bill C-38, including returning some 100,000 pre-2008 applications in the skilled worker program inventory. That will allow us to go from processing times of several years to processing times of a few months, meaning that employers, provinces, and others will be able to go abroad and actively recruit people who have the skills to be able to work at their skill level upon arrival, with the confidence that they will be admitted in Canada, if they're qualified, within a matter of months.
This summer we're also looking at pre-publishing a new points grid for the federal skilled worker program based on our extensive consultations. The revised grid is likely to place greater emphasis on the youth of immigrants because younger immigrants tend to do better, and on higher levels of language proficiency for those who want to work as licensed professionals, for example. We'll certainly privilege those with pre-arranged employment in Canada, moving them to the front of the line.
We also hope to create a new skilled trades stream, a very exciting innovation. In the past many years, skilled tradespeople effectively could not make it through the skilled worker program because it required high levels of post-secondary education and advanced language proficiency. But the new skilled trades stream will allow the welders and advanced construction workers and so forth, who have those skills that we need in our economy, to come here at a lower level of language proficiency. There will be a dedicated stream carved out for them to complement what's really happening in the success of the provincial nominee programs.
Moreover, with the powers proposed in Bill C-38 to move towards the creation of a pool of pre-qualified applicants, which can be drawn down from by employers and perhaps provinces through their provincial nominee programs, they will be able to identify critical labour shortages, go into that pool of pre-qualified applicants, figure out who meets their criteria, and bring them in as much as possible with pre-arranged employment.
We will also, of course, be moving towards a pre-assessment of the relevance of the education of applicants for immigration to our labour market, so we no longer bring people in whose degrees and diplomas are unlikely to be recognized by Canadian professional licensing bodies or employers.
Eventually we hope to get to a situation similar to that of Australia, where we're able to do a pre-assessment of credentials for licensed professionals that might be administered by the national bodies representing the
provincial regulatory bodies.
Finally, we have already launched consultations with a view to reforming immigrant investor programs. As I said many times, I don't think Canada realizes what huge potential it has as a destination for immigrant investors. We are now looking at ways to attract people who are able to make much more significant investments in the Canadian economy. And we are open to any ideas the committee may have as to how to carry out this reform.
I'll close with this, Mr. Chairman. These are just some of the many reforms we're making to improve the economic outcomes of immigration, to make the experience of immigrating to Canada better for newcomers and better for Canada. We are determined to get to that fast, flexible, and more efficient system as soon as we can.
I want to commend my officials for working sometimes quite literally overnight on both the policy reforms and the operational changes necessary to get there.
Thank you very much.