Taking note of the demographic decline in the province, the government of Nova Scotia has come up with an action-oriented approach to identify innovative solutions including increasing the province’s attractiveness for immigrants and modifying the skilled worker stream to bring in international workers into the region.
After years of neglect, the Premier Stephen McNeil and his government officials are waking up to the potential benefits that immigration offers for this province. As the first step, the province has decided to go in for an integrated approach towards immigration with improved coordination between the province’s Immigration Settlement and Integration Services and organizations like the YMCA.
The province is seeking to reap the benefits of the Express Entry program that is set to be launched in January 2015. The program, designed to facilitate easier entry of skilled workers into Canada, may help Nova Scotia improve its track record of attracting immigrants and convincing them to continue residing and working in the province.
The Ivany report that suggested solutions for boosting the economy of the province highlighted the risks of relying solely on government efforts, and recommended seeking contributions from the private sector through the Express Entry Scheme.
Conceived as an improved solution to help Canadian employers identifying skilled foreign workers, the Express Entry program is expected to help Nova Scotia attract talent from a large number of foreign countries. While the new program can be very effective if its works as planned, a lot depends on the approach adopted by businesses established in the province.
Even a proactive and bold approach by its private sector may not be enough considering Nova Scotia’s reputation of being a region riddled with problems like high tax rates, low salaries. Further, lack of community infrastructure for social integration of foreign workers and prevalent prejudices against immigrants may complicate matters. These issues may hurt Nova Scotia’s chances of leaving other provinces behind in attracting foreign talent.
An aggressive and direct approach from private businesses in the province can help the economy benefit from the fact that the Express Entry system does not have any cap or limit on inflow of immigrants, which was the biggest drawback of the Nova Scotia Provincial Nominee Program.
Now that business will find it easier to identify workers with skills and qualifications matching their exact requirements, the province should find more skilled workers interested in residing and, eventually, becoming citizens of the country. The program has been designed to complete the process of identifying and facilitating entry of foreign talent within a period of six months.
The Express Entry system is also expected to free up demand for the Provincial Nominee Program. This is further expected to help businesses enjoy multiple immigration options that hitherto did not exist. Nova Scotia can also benefit from the Business Stream option, which is designed to make it easier for entrepreneurs to setup or acquire businesses in Canada.
The option of flexible and easy acquisition of business may be particularly attractive for Nova Scotia as it may make it easier for aged entrepreneurs to seek retirement by selling their small businesses to young entrepreneurs seeking attractive business prospects in Canada. The government is also expected to relook the harsh tax regime governing sale of businesses in the province.
Outflow of people to other provinces and countries, an aging population, and an economy that is showing no signs of revival and growth are the biggest issues facing Nova Scotia today. The Express Entry system is expected to make a significant impact in solving the issues faced byteh province.
Express Entry is an immigration system, which selects skilled workers to Canada under Economic programs. Applicants submit an online profile to the Express Entry Pool. Provincial governments across Canada select the best candidates, without a sponsor employer, who are thereafter invited by the Federal government to apply for Canadian permanent residence.
Every province has implemented its own provincial immigration program PNP (Provincial Nominee Programs), each with its own criteria, in order to promote immigration policies suited to a province’s particular needs.
Provincial Nomination Programs are widely viewed as a fast-track option for many foreign nationals to gain Canadian permanent residency.
Under Express Entry the role of the provinces will become significant. In addition to the existing Provincial Nomination Programs available through Canadian provinces and territories, currently Nova Scotia, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and British Columbia have launched express entry immigration programs that complement the Canada Express Entry Immigration system. A sponsor employer is often not required.
To be selected under a provincial express entry immigration program, prospective applicants must first meet the minimum criteria for one of the three federal programs available under the express entry system (the Federal Skilled Worker Program, the Federal Skilled Trade Program and the Canadian Experience Class). They must also complete a federal express entry assessment profile.
From the federal express entry pool a participating province can select between 500 to 1,000 applicants for nomination to their province each year.
Express Entry applicants nominated by the province will receive an additional 600 points in their Express Entry assessment. This will increase the chances to receive an Invitation to Apply for permanent residence from Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC). Applicants who are invited to apply could have their applications for Canadian permanent residency processed by CIC in six months or less.
Find out whether you qualify to Canada by completing our free on-line evaluation. We will provide you with your evaluation results within 1-2 business days.
Canada recently unveiled elements of a proposal to attract wealthy immigrants, provided they invest a minimum 2 million Canadian dollars ($1.7 million) into a venture-capital fund. The Canadian government said this would start as a pilot program and would accept applications starting in January.
The program is similar to what other western countries have used to attract wealthy newcomers. Canada’s immigration minister, Chris Alexander, said the nation would accept up to 500 applications from prospective immigrants with a net worth of C$10 million. Canada will grant residency visas to at least 50 people on the condition they invest C$2 million into a venture-capital fund that will in turn use the cash to backstop Canadian startups. The government added that there will be no guarantee that prospective immigrants will get a return on their investment.
This immigration program tied to venture-capital investment replaces a visa program that granted permanent residency to those who committed C$800,000 to a Canadian province through a five-year, zero-interest loan. Canada ended the program last February and in doing so, canceled a backlog of tens of thousands of mainly Chinese applicants.
Before Canada halted its investor immigration program earlier this year, it was the second-most popular immigration destination for Chinese immigrants, according to the Center for China & Globalization, a nonprofit research firm in Beijing.
Besides the minimum investment and net-worth requirements, immigration lawyers said the new program has strict conditions for entry. For instance, applicants must be proficient in either English or French and hold an education diploma that is the equivalent of a Canadian postsecondary degree.
Language has been part of the requirement for immigrating to Canada, but not for investment-based immigration. China has seen an increased popularity of French language institutes, as wealthy Chinese discovered a back door into Canada that involves applying for entry into Quebec, as long as the applicants have a working knowledge of French.
Source: Wall Street Journal
Alberta had the highest rate of unfilled jobs in the country in the third quarter of this year, according to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. In a new report, the group said 66,700 positions in the private sector were unfilled in the quarter, for a job vacancy rate of 3.9 per cent. Saskatchewan’s vacancy rate was second highest in the country, at 3.7 per cent, while the national average was 2.7 per cent.
Nationally, an estimated 322,000 private sector jobs were awaiting qualified employees.
According to the CFIB, nationwide openings in full, part-time and temporary positions increased by 7,000 jobs compared with the second quarter, the largest quarterly increase measured by CFIB in the past two years.
“A tightening labour market means that employers have a harder time finding the qualified employees they need; especially small businesses,” said Ted Mallett, CFIB’s chief economist. “Generally, businesses with fewer than 20 employees are reporting vacancy rates more than double that of businesses employing 50 or more.”
The CFIB said that in the past five years, the vacancy rate has climbed from a low of 1.7 per cent in late 2009 and early 2010, rising to 2.6 per cent by 2012. It added that prior to the recession, the rate of private sector job vacancies reached a maximum of three per cent through late 2007 and early 2008.
Despite fewer vacancies in agriculture, wholesale trade, business services and hospitality, the CFIB said there were fractional increases in unfilled jobs in oil and gas, manufacturing, transportation and financial services. “Alberta’s private sector job vacancy rate remains the highest in the country and has been on a slow, steady climb. The new breakdown by census division also clearly confirms hiring difficulties have been severe for employers across most of the province for the past couple of years,” said Richard Truscott, the CFIB’s Alberta director.
Source: Calgary Herald
Fill out a questionnaire, write a flattering description of yourself, post a profile and hope someone notices you. This is not the next big thing in online dating, but the way Canada will select its skilled workers starting Jan. 1.
Gone will be the days of long queues, when officials processed applications in the order received, leading to backlogs of a year or longer. New applications will be entered into a pool from which employers and provinces can select candidates, who are then invited by the government to apply for permanent residence. Most applications will be processed within six months, Citizenship and Immigration Canada says.
Below is an outline showing how the new system, called Express Entry, will work.
1. People who want to move to Canada as a skilled worker post a profile in the Express Entry pool. To do this they must meet the qualifications for either the Federal Skilled Worker Program, the Federal Skilled Trades Program, the Canadian Experience Class or a Provincial Nominee program. If the person has not already been offered a job or been selected by a province, they will also be required to register with Canada’s job bank. Express Entry will not apply to short-term programs for low-skilled workers, such as the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.
2. All candidates in the pool will be automatically assigned a numerical score and ranked based on their age, skills, education and experience. There will be two tiers of candidates in the pool: those who have a job offer or provincial nomination in hand, and those who do not.
3. The government will “draw” candidates from the pool roughly every two weeks based exclusively on numerical score. The cutoff will vary depending on the government’s immigration targets for skilled workers, but the lowest score to make the cutoff will be published each time. Those drawn from the pool will be invited to apply for permanent residence. Those who have job offers or who have been selected by a province will always be invited to apply. The first such draw will take place at the end of January.
Employers and provinces will be able to view profiles of job seekers though the Canada Job Bank or Express Entry. Employers will be required to first obtain a Labour Market Impact Assessment from the government as an assurance that there are no qualified Canadians available to fill the vacancy.
Reaction from groups in B.C. who represent employers has been largely positive. Richard Truscott, of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, called Express Entry a “very positive development” but expressed dissatisfaction at the fact that it is only available for highly skilled workers.
Source: Vancouver Sun
The Canadian economy performed surprisingly positively in October and is set to extend its broadly-based growth with higher exports to the U.S., but uncertainty remains over the impact of lower oil prices on the energy sector.
According to Statistics Canada, Gross domestic product rose 0.3 per cent to an annualized $1.65-trillion in October, after a 0.4-per-cent gain in September. October was expected to see growth a 0.1-per-cent growth.
The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index was up by 1.01 per cent, to 145.91 points, in early afternoon trading, at 14,578.29 on news of the strong data as well as slightly higher oil prices.
The U.S. economy grew at a 5-per-cent annual rate in the third quarter, its fastest pace in 11 years, boosted by consumer spending and outpacing Canada’s gains. This is a welcome outcome for Canada’s exporters, as increased demand benefits the manufacturing sector.
However, impacts of the potential longer-term damage of dramatically lower oil prices to the country’s oil and gas companies are under scrutiny as well.
“The Canadian economy is off to a surprisingly strong start to [the fourth quarter] with the good handoff from September providing a nice additional boost,” BMO Nesbitt Burns senior economist Benjamin Reitzes said in a research note. “While growth will likely decelerate in the final two months of 2014, it looks as though [fourth quarter] GDP growth is going to be around 2.5 per cent annualized unless November and December weaken materially.”
But he added that 2015 appears to be more challenging “as the drop in oil prices starts to bite.” GDP growth looks to be on a path to slow to a sub-2-per-cent pace in the first half of 2015, the weakest since 2012, he said.
PNC Financial Services Group’s senior international economist Bill Adams said he expects Canadian real GDP growth will show “modest improvement” next year but will lag GDP growth in the U.S., “which looks likely to exceed 3.0 per cent in 2015.”
“Lower oil prices haven’t dragged on Canadian energy output yet, perhaps because producers may have locked in long-term prices before the fourth quarter’s plunge,” Mr. Adams added.
“The real worries lie in what the collapse in crude means for next year,” CIBC World Markets’ Nick Exarhos said.
Oil production volumes were up a surprising 1.5 per cent in October but the damage from the fall in crude prices will be felt as firms in the sector cut spending plans in the first half of 2015.
October saw a rise of 0.7 per cent for manufacturing output, the highest in six years. According to National Bank Financial senior economist Krishen Rangasam, this was likely due to stronger U.S. demand and the impact of the lower Canadian dollar.
Royal Bank of Canada economist Paul Ferley agrees that oil price declines will likely hurt sector investment but says that should be offset by Canadian exports to the U.S. and higher Canadian consumer spending thanks to lower gasoline prices.
Other factors providing a boost to GDP in October was the 0.8-per-cent rise in public sector output, including a 2.6-per-cent growth in educational services, which got a bump from the return to work of striking British Columbia teachers. Among other sectors, Statistics Canada said services posted a 0.3-per-cent gain.
Source: The Globe and Mail
So how will Canada fare with employment, oil prices and housing in 2015? Top economists share their views for the year ahead.
Doug Porter, chief economist at BMO Capital Markets believes that 2015 will see only a little improvement in the job market. “Through much of 2013 and 2014 the jobless rate was seemingly locked at about seven per cent. It’s become unstuck in recent months. We see it in the low six per cent range,” says Porter. According to Porter, the rate of unemployment drifts downwards in a growing economy, whereas it shoots up drastically when economic growth slows down. And as BMO Capital Markets foresee the Canadian economy doing better in the coming year, it is therefore predicted to bring down the unemployment rates as well.
The chief economist at Gluskin Sheff and Associates, David Rosenberg, also has a positive prediction for 2015, forecasting the unemployment rate to drop from 6.5% to 6% by the end of next year mainly due to Canadian exports seeing a boost due to a slowdown in China’s economy. “With the lagged impact of the Canadian dollar’s depreciation, the fiscal stimulus at the federal level and the US economy in acceleration mode, goods-producing employment will be a big source of support,” says Rosenberg,
Dawn Desjardins, assistant chief economist at Royal Bank of Canada, believes the unemployment rate in 2015 will lower only slightly from its current 6.5%. “We expect it will hold at or slightly below this level, historically considered to be the economy’s full employment rate.” says Desjardins.
Striking a positive note, Porter believes the US will lead the way to a global economic recovery in 2015, and that this won’t be hampered by high oil prices, which he believes will see only a moderate increase. “I don’t think we will be back at the triple-digit mark, but it will be in the low to mid-$80s. So we will see some recovery—though, having said that, it could go lower in the meantime.” Rosenberg largely shares this view, putting the price rise down to higher international demand and production cuts from both OPEC and non-OPEC suppliers all over the world. “There is a significant portion of global oil production that is not economic or “fiscally viable” below $80 per barrel and this will result in production cutbacks after oil remains below $80 for a couple of quarters,” says Rosenberg.
Desjardins also predicts only a mild increase in oil price in 2015. “We expect oil prices (WTI) will be around $75 at the end of 2015, supported by a gradual recovery in global demand and the likely paring back of supply,” says she.
On the question of housing prices, Porter feels that it is tough to speculate on Canada’s real estate market, but believes that prices will increase in 2015. “They won’t rise as quickly as in 2014; we’ll see a bit of cooling off next year. But economists, pundits and media have been spectacularly wrong on the housing market. As long as borrowing costs remain so exceptionally low, and employment growth keeps churning ahead, it would be tough to see a serious near-term correction. That’s not to say the market will never feel some pain, but the near-term outlook appears reasonable at this point,” he says.
Desjardins also predicts higher house prices by the end of 2015, but thinks that the rate of increase will be lowest since 2009. “Affordability in most markets shows modest signs of stress. The outliers are Toronto, Vancouver and to a lesser extent Calgary. Low interest rates and modest increases in income have offset the impact of rising prices in most cities. In 2015, expected increases in mortgage rates will challenge affordability. That said, with the Bank of Canada likely to only slowly raise the policy rate, and income growth expected to accelerate, we are looking for a cooling in housing sales, not a collapse,” she elaborates.
Rosenberg however feels that house prices will remain flat all over Canada. He predicts low mortgage rates for next year due to the good amount of housing availability in terms of supply and demand. “But home prices relative to apartments are too far into the stratosphere, and residential real estate values, benchmarked against virtually any economic metric, are far too high relative to historical norms to believe there can be much upside to prices,” says Rosenberg.
Canada’s Startup Visa Program was launched with much fanfare on April 1, 2013, by Jason Kenney, the former Citizenship and Immigration Minister. The program was started to attract top entrepreneurs from all over the world to Canada to start their own companies.
To be eligible for startup visas, entrepreneurs are required to acquire financial backing from a set of designated investors. The investment must be worth at least $200,000 if from a venture capital firm, or $75,000 if from an angel investor group. A third option is to get accepted by a designated accelerator or incubator program.
These requirements are in stark contrast to the previous entrepreneur visa program, which was halted in February of 2014. Its requirements were much simpler, with a foreign applicant needing to employ just one Canadian for one year to be eligible.
The new Startup Visa Program has been widely promoted in the US, with huge billboards especially in Silicon Valley, in a bid to attract bright student entrepreneurs to apply for one of the 2,750 startup visas made available every year.
And yet, 20 months after its launch, only two companies have been granted a total of five startup visas. As it was introduced as a five-year pilot scheme, the startup community is now skeptical whether the Canadian government will continue it after March 2018.
According to Betsy R. Kane, an immigration law practitioner from Ottawa, the government’s objective of attracting world-class entrepreneurs has failed completely. “This is not rocket science. They had a cap of 2,750 and in two years they’ve had five people. Why can’t there be more uptake?” she says.
Kane’s clients include Nat Cartwright, who along with her batch mate from Madrid’s highly regarded IE Business School, Jake Tyler, co-founded a new business relating to peer-to-peer mobile payments last year. The duo planned to set up their business, named Payso, in Vancouver, and expected it do well in the peer-to-peer mobile payments market, estimated to be worth a billion dollars in the next five years.
Cartwright and Tyler invested $20,000 in the company and hired an IBM employee to join them. However, Tyler, an Australian national, is unable to relocate permanently to Canada and his only option is to obtain a startup visa, which is not easily attainable. They have been advised by a law firm that the process may take two years to finalize but Cartwright feels it would be too late by then. “In one year, this is going to get out there whether it’s our company doing it or someone else’s. It seems like a great program but in terms of execution it doesn’t seem like it’s going to be that useful for us,” says Cartwright.
According to Kane, the startup visa program’s biggest drawback is that the designated third-party investors are not very keen on evaluating international business plans for Canada’s government. “I’m not sure what the CIC was expecting of these independent third-parties, but certainly they’re not, from what I see, going to spend a whole lot of resources in vetting all potential immigrants who are knocking on their door,” she said.
However, Chris Alexander, Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration Minister, while admitting that there is additional burden on designated investors, believes that the extra work comes with a comparative advantage. “Only the firms that wanted to participate were those selected,” he said.
Alexander is also not much perturbed by the small numbers of startup visas. He says that the program was not meant to be large-scale and reveals that about 20-30 companies with financial backing of one of the designated third-party investors have made formal applications for startup visas so far. “We are confident that the flow into the program will continue to grow but we want it to happen organically. We can’t force these things,” he says.
Critics of the program believe that there is not adequate awareness about the program globally, and that good startup companies can easily raise venture capital from an established firm without having to apply for startup visas.
Cartwright and Tyler do have the interest from several venture capital firms, however due to Tyler’s visa status, the company’s fate is unsure. “One of the first questions they ask is how long is your team available for. Since we don’t have a visa it works against us in terms of getting investment,” explains Cartwright.
Highline, an accelerator program based in Vancouver and Toronto, is also interested in Payso. It is one of the 11 designated programs eligible to facilitate a startup visa. Marcus Daniels, the chief executive of Highline, thinks that the problem is due to the fact that the incubator and accelerator programs designated by the Canadian government are not mandated to recruit foreign teams. “It’s never going to work if the entities don’t have an international mandate and a deal-hunting strategy for it,” he says.
Another obstacle is that less than half of the 11 designated accelerator or incubator programs are able to make a direct investment in the companies they select, with most of them only able to provide office space and mentorship. “No top-tier international founder is going to do this without getting proper funding,” says Daniels.
The Canadian government announced yesterday the launch of a program that will issue work permits to the spouses of Canadian residents who are waiting for their permanent residency. The initiative, which will be for an initial one-year trial period, was taken to help the thousands of families of Canadian residents who have been living in Canada without the right to work and who have been denied access to public services. Several reports highlighting the plight of these families have featured prominently in Canadian news media recently.
A spokesperson for Immigration Minister Chris Alexander was quoted as saying, “As we promised, Citizenship and Immigration Canada is launching a pilot program that will allow spouses being sponsored under the Inland Spousal Sponsorship program to receive their work permits much sooner while we process their applications.”
The program aims to ensure that the spouses can better look after their families while also contributing to Canada’s economy.
According to the announcement, existing permanent residence applicants – who have been waiting for more than 18 months in some instances – will have their work permits issued in just a few weeks. For new applicants, the processing time for work permits has been set at a maximum of four months.
Under this pilot program, an open work permit will be issued which will allow the applicant to work for any employer in Canada for a fixed duration of time while their application for permanent residency is being processed. The open work permit will also allow the holder to avail provincial health coverage during the waiting period.
Nova Scotia will increase its annual quota by 350 under its new provincial nomination stream beginning January 2015. The new stream – “Nova Scotia Demand: Express Entry” will enable the province to increase intake by 50% in 2015. It will replace the previous Regional Labour Market Demand Stream as a pilot project and will account for a total of 1050 skilled workers.
The program, “is intended to provide a faster route for skilled immigrants to enter Nova Scotia in response to labour-market demands,” said a provincial Office of Immigration news release. It will complement the existing streams already in place.
Nominees will be highly skilled, have post-secondary education and the qualifications to help them successfully settle in Nova Scotia and demonstrate an intention to reside in the province.
To develop the stream provincial immigration authorities collaborated with private business, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, immigrant settlement organizations and industry professionals.
The new Nova Scotia demand express entry stream will operate in conjunction with the federal government’s Express Entry immigration system that will also launch on January 1, 2015. Successful applicants must first meet one of the Federal economic immigration programs, including the Federal Skilled Worker Program, Federal Skilled Trades Program or the Canadian Experience Class. The province will be able nominate applicants from the federal Express Entry pool.
Nova Scotia follows the Province of Manitoba which also announced plans to harmonize Provincial Nominee Programs with the new federal express entry immigration system scheduled to launch on January 1, 2015.