A Mississauga CEO says Canada’s immigration policies are working against start-up companies trying to get businesses off the ground.
Carl Rodrigues, of software company SOTI, believes the government needs to make it easier for new companies to bring in foreign talent to help them grow.
Speaking at the Annual Research Money Conference in Ottawa, Rodrigues said Canada was losing out to America and that it was time for visa requirements to be relaxed to allow start-ups to access the best minds from overseas.
“With the combination of our start-ups being sold to Americans, our talent going south, and archaic immigration policies, we’re losing out to a nimbler American entrepreneurial scene,” he said.
Both are subject to a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), which is a mechanism to check if there are Canadians available with the same skills.
The profiles of candidates in the Express Entry pool are ranked according to their human capital contribution to Canada.
Rodrigues, who started his multi-million dollar company from a basement, says government policies are too short-sighted, investing in start-ups without considering how to keep the companies and the jobs in provides in Canada.
What is SOTI?
- Proven product innovator and enterprise mobility management industry leader.
- 15,000 customers across 170 countries.
- Strong partnerships with hardware manufacturers, providing support for new mobile devices and operating systems.
- Customers include logistics, retail, healthcare, education and field services.
- Strong focus on research and development.
Too often the brightest Canadians end up in American, where wages and benefits far exceed what companies at home can offer, he said.
Rodrigues added that as many as 80 per cent of Canadian software engineers leaving the country, with some 350,000 currently working in Silicon Valley, the California home of the likes of Facebook, Apple and Google.
Too often the Canadian government invests in new companies that then get bought out by Americans, meaning the investment dollars are lost, Rodrigues said.
He wants to see measures put in place to make it more attractive to remain in Canada, including student loan incentives for graduates, tax breaks, signing bonuses, plus relaxed visa requirements.
The federal government is currently conducting a review into all of Canada’s immigration programs.
Changes being considered include:
- Re-designing the Temporary Foreign Workers Program to meet the needs of employers while protecting the Canadian labour market.
- Re-designing Express Entry to be more fluid and more flexible.
- Eliminating the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) requirement for businesses that wish to hire candidates using Express Entry that are currently working in Canada under the International Mobility Program.
- Revising the assessment process for international students working under the Post-Graduate Work Program (PGWP), to qualify under Express Entry.
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