Recruiting international technology talent is one of the objectives of Immigration Minister John McCallum’s overhaul of the Canadian system, expected to be announced in the fall.
Time and again business leaders have told the Liberal MP they need to bring in these skilled workers faster and be able to offer incentives that can at least begin to compete with the lure of Silicon Valley.
McCallum has had a picture presented to him of businesses stunted in their growth because they are unable to hire the right people quickly enough.
It remains to be seen what McCallum will do about it but he has sent a clear indication the message has been received loud and clear.
Liberal ministers on bringing in tech talent
“We have all heard too many horror stories of agile companies facing challenges when trying to bring in bright new employees to support business growth and opportunities. Highly skilled workers, researchers and entrepreneurs should be welcomed in Canada in higher volumes and at a faster rate than other OECD countries.”
Bardish Chagger, Small Business Minister
“Their idea of a quick processing time is more like six days rather than six months (current target). Six days would be a stretch. But at the same time … we want to open our doors to the best and the brightest … so, obviously, I will be working very hard to try to accommodate their needs as best I can.”
John McCallum, Immigration Minister
(When asked about fast hiring of skilled tech workers) “That will be a key component … We want to make innovation a national priority.”
Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development
While immigration officials are battling to meet a six month deadline – the stated processing time from when an Invitation to Apply is issued under Express Entry – employers are saying they need people in days or at most, weeks.
The avenues open to businesses include permanent works under the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP), via Express Entry, or temporary workers under the Skilled Worker stream of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP). The latter was dramatically reduced in the numbers of workers admitted to Canada by the previous Conservative government.
The time consuming under both programs is the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), designed to ensure immigrants are not coming in and taking jobs from Canadians.
Under proposed changes, expect the LMIA to become to allow for increased exemptions – situations that will not require an LMIA altogether. 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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