The Canadian government is planning a new immigration program that will target “high value innovators,” according to Immigration Minister Jason Kenney.
“We want to create a policy which is more likely to attract entrepreneurs in areas like technology, energy and environmental innovations,” said Minister Kenney in a recent interview. “These areas have a lot more potential than just running a kiosk at the mall.”
The new program is intended replace the immigrant entrepreneur program, which was suspended last year. Minister Kenney says the previous program was inefficient, with a backlog waiting time of approximately eight years at the time of suspension.
Officials in Ottawa were concerned that the old program was deterring valuable applicants, who had no desire to wait nearly a decade for a response, as well as deal with inefficient bureaucratic policies.
In comparison, several provinces have been running their own immigrant entrepreneur programs through the Provincial Nominee Programs, with the results (a four to five-month wait) being much more efficient.
Observers are generally pleased with the federal government’s aims to build a new program. They say the old program, besides being inefficient, often targeted the wrong kinds of entrepreneurs – people who ended up opening “a convenience store” or restaurant without yet fully developing their language skills or understanding Canadian culture.
“That’s not to diminish that kind of business, there is value in any kind of business activity,” said Kenney regarding such “convenience” businesses. “But quite frankly, we’d like to be focusing our attention on attracting bright entrepreneurs who have been capitalized to create companies in high-tech, value-added businesses that have potential to create hundreds of jobs over their lifetime rather than two or three.”
The government will continue consulting with members of the public and private sectors and is expected to officially announce the new program sometime in 2012.
Source: Globe and Mail