Canada’s federal government is keen to capitalise on the rise of anti-immigration sentiment in competitor countries by introducing a global talent visa aimed at attracting the best and brightest candidates from all over the world.
But Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains says first the government needs to convince Canadians of the economic worth of increased immigration.
Bains says Britain’s vote to exit the European Union and the support for Donald Trump in the US could play into Canada’s hands if immigration policies are handled correctly.
Canada is expected to welcome a record number of immigrants in 2016, having already brought in the most for 100 years in the 12 months ending in July 2016.
Source: Statistics Canada
Bains sees the need for the government to shape the argument properly, and build on solid evidence that immigration leads to more jobs and helps grow economies, instead of commonly held protectionist views.
“That conversation is a tough one to have but I think there is enormous potential if we have a global talent visa for example, post Brexit and what’s happening in the US, to take advantage of the top talent around the world that is looking to Canada and bringing them here.” Bains told a meeting in Ottawa.
He also said: “We also want to attract the best and brightest, because that’s the key ingredient for economic success going forward. Really, the challenge is how we engage Canadians.”
Matthew Barasch, Equity Strategist at RBC, said recently the election of Donald Trump as US president could be a huge benefit to Canada in terms of immigration.
Instead of losing its brightest minds to the lure of major US companies, international talent will start to favour Canada over its southern neighbour, Barasch said.
With Trump also claiming he will clamp down on all types of immigration, including deporting illegals and building a wall along the Mexican border, Canada could also see a boost in the market for lower skilled workers, Barasch believes.
Canadian Federal Immigration Minister John McCallum says one of his top priorities is to streamline the process for bringing in technology talent.
That was one of the messages he heard loud and clear during several meetings with businesses and provincial officials over the summer.
McCallum`s Immigration Plan
- The Liberals made family reunification a key element of their campaign for election, and McCallum is looking at ways to speed up the whole process of bringing in immediate family members.
- There are also plans to make it easier for international students to stay in Canada after they graduate. McCallum feels these young, Canadian qualified, Canadian experienced individuals are the perfect candidates to become new permanent residents.
- McCallum also plans to address the technology talent shortage in Canada by making it easier to bring in new immigrants with the right qualifications.
- Limitations on the Temporary Foreign Worker Program are set to be relaxed, with a report into the current state of the program expected to be released in September.
- McCallum has already given Atlantic Canada the freedom to bring in 2,000 more immigrants under Provincial Nominee Programs in 2017. These numbers could rise in 2018 and 2019 if the increase is seen as a success.
Under proposed changes, expect increased Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) exemptions. One suggestion being considered is to only apply the LMIA to certain professions, although it remains to be seen how Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada would pursue this route.
Another suggestion is to pull certain technology jobs that are known to be difficult to fill, out of the FSWP altogether and create a sub visa stream aimed only at the most sought after IT talent in the global market. This is along the lines of what Bains favours.
A new technology talent immigration stream would need to be clear on exactly the aims, goals and criteria to qualify. It is important to form clear requirements and guidelines so the program is not open to abuse. That would mean defining a clear list of eligible professions with no room for manoeuvre.
It has become clear that a growing need exists for Canadian employers. The Information and Communications Technology Council predicted recently that by 2019, 182,000 high-paying Canadian technology jobs would be vacant.
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