According to a recent British Columbia Labor Outlook report, planned or confirmed economic activity in the province is expected to create around 985,000 job vacancies by 2022. Further, the province will require 100,000 new employees from the LNG activity. In all, British Columbia will require a million individuals for newly-created skilled jobs by 2022.
The province may end up with stalled projects worth billions of dollars over the next decade unless a quick fix is found for the acute shortage of skilled labor in the province. The provincial administration is expected to depend on immigrants and workers from Asian countries to tackle the existing and future labor shortages.
An important step towards tackling the predicted labor shortage was taken with the introduction of a new Express Entry British Columbia stream under the Province Nominee Program. This stream will work in sync with the Federal Express Entry system introduced by Citizenship and Immigration Canada. The Federal system came into force on 1st January, 2015 for facilitating easier entry of skilled labor into Canada.
Since the new stream introduced by BC works in tandem with the Federal Scheme, applicants can enjoy the benefit of priority processing of the British Columbia PNP application, and of the permanent residence application, which, of course, will be processed only if the applicant is nominated.
British Columbia’s Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Minister Responsible for Labor stated that the administration wanted to accord top priority to British Columbians for all the jobs in the province. However, the Minister conceded that economic immigration is vital for fulfilling the rising demand for labor in the growing economy of the province.
Express Entry British Columbia is expected to streamline the process and serve as the gateway for skilled workers from all over the world who wish to permanently reside in the province. Labor analysts and immigration experts anticipate a surge in applications from countries like India, China, Philippines, and other Asian countries. In 2014, Philippines sprung a surprise to beat China and India and become the biggest source for new immigrants seeking to shift to Canada.
Canada is an attractive destination for Asian migrants seeking better opportunities and a high quality of living abroad. The acute shortage of labor combined with the high standard of living in Canada is the reason why the country is attracting new immigrants in record numbers.
Canada has implemented a new immigration system designed to make it easier for skilled young migrants with professional qualifications to enter the country. The earlier system that was in force throughout 2014 had been panned for not being effective in attracting migrants to Canada.
Launched on January 1, the Express Entry system accords higher priority to those who have already been offered jobs in Canada. Prior to this system, Canada had been relying on the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, which had been implemented by Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper to cater to the shortage of skilled labor in Canada.
Official data indicates that a significant proportion of the 330,000 temporary workers accepted in 2012 ended up working in fast-food outlets. On the other hand, Canada had granted entry to around 100,000 temporary foreign workers with most migrants working in agriculture or in jobs in remote parts of the country. This figure dropped to around 240,000 in 2014, and the Citizenship and Immigration Minister has stated that Canada intends to grant entry to around 260,000 to 285,000 migrants in 2015.
The entry of temporary workers from foreign countries has been justified by the administration on the ground that Canadians don’t prefer working in fast-food outlets. This is why the government is seeking foreign workers, although these migrants cannot seek permanent residence, and have to accept fewer rights and lesser benefits as compared to Canadian residents.
The three-fold increase between 2002 and 2012 has coincided with the policy that allows companies to pay just 85% of normal wages to foreign workers from Latin American countries and nations like the Philippines. However, this has had a detrimental impact on the Canadian labor market and companies prefer to replace Canadian citizens with less expensive foreign labor.
After withstanding pressure from trade unions for a long time, the government finally came clean in 2014 and admitted that the Temporary Foreign Worker Program was being abused by employers. In some cases, foreign workers were even given death threats by employers. Succumbing to pressure, the government went ahead and suspended a part of the Program.
After being criticized for tinkering with the immigration system for the sole purpose of catering to the needs of the most influential sectors of the economy, the Harper government has introduced the Express Entry system to silence its critics.
Under the Express Entry system, candidates will be assessed on the basis of a wide range of factors like age, education, proficiency in language, and work experience.
The Immigration Minister has pointed out that the new system allows the government to select those immigrants who shall be top contributors to the Canadian communities, its labor market, and its overall economy.
Close on the heels of the new Federal system, British Columbia has implemented a skilled-worker immigration program for catering to employers who need high-skilled labor without lengthy delays. The stream will be focused primarily on those with offers for full-time and permanent jobs, and who, further, have the economic means to support themselves in the country.
Under the new stream introduced by British Columbia, applicants must apply through the Express Entry system introduced by the Federal Government. The applicants must complete the assessment under the program and fit into one of the economic immigration streams under the program. Then, they must specify their interest to settle in British Columbia.
After this, they must apply under the Express Entry system of the province under one of its four categories. The four categories are:
- Skilled Worker: Occupations that require university degree or trade school diploma. This category includes management jobs, professional jobs, and trading jobs.
- Health Care Professional: Doctors, medical specialists, registered nurses, and health professionals like lab technicians, pharmacy professionals, and physiotherapists.
- International Graduate: For migrants with degree from a recognized post-secondary institution or diploma or certificate from public post-secondary institutions in Canada.
- International Post Graduate: Migrants with Master’s or Doctoral degree in natural, applied, or health sciences. The degree must have been received not more than two years before the application. The degree must have been granted under an eligible program at a post-secondary institution in the province.
Except for the International Post Graduate category, the immigrants must have a full time job offer of an indeterminate length with wages that will be adequate for the immigrant to support himself or herself in the province.
Further, the provincial Express Entry system will prefer immigrants with several years of experience. It is not aimed at facilitating the entry of immigrants seeking low-skilled jobs in fields like agriculture, caregiving, or food-related occupations. Such immigrants must seek short-term work permits or enter through international exchange programs or through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.
CIC’s decision to increase nominee slots for the province to 5,500 in 2015 has brought it at par with the Prairie province. In 2014, British Columbia had been issued 4,150 slots, significantly lower than the spaces granted to the Prairie province.