Canada is limiting its own economic growth by imposing caps on British Columbia’s Provincial Nominee Program (PNP).
Premier Christy Clark wants to see the federal government move to allow thousands more skilled immigrants into the province, currently home to Canada’s strongest economy.
B.C.’s technology sector is desperate to attract the best talent from abroad, but it is impeded by caps and a process that is bogged down by the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).
British Columbia Immigration, January to June 2016
Source: Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada
The LMIA is design to ensure jobs are not being taken away from Canadians and given to foreigners.
But it is a time-consuming process that involves the job being advertised in the right places for a required time period.
It means burgeoning technology companies must wait on average six months for skilled talent to arrive, hindering them in an already competitive global market for a small group of experienced individuals.
Clark says the B.C. PNP is ‘bursting at the seams’ and called for ‘a few thousand more’ to be added to the cap. “Why would you constrain economic growth of the best=performing economy in the country?” she said.
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.
Under proposed changes, expect increased 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.
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.
Carl Rodrigues, CEO of Mississauga software company SOTI, recently described Canada’s immigration policies as ‘archaic’ and called on the government to make changes to help companies grow.
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