In the wake of tighter US immigration controls, for political and bureaucratic reasons, the Canadian federal government is looking to capitalize by launching a new scheme as part of its temporary foreign worker program, with a view to attracting more highly skilled workers to Canada. The new ‘Global Talent’ pilot scheme was made public on Thursday, March 9.
Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science, and Economic Development, and Patty Hajdu, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, who announced the new pilot program in Toronto, said that it’s due to launch on June 12 and will make Canada’s skilled worker visas easier to obtain.
The federal government, along with Canadian tech companies, have hailed the scheme as a chance to bring in overseas staff to fast-track innovation, enabling the country to compete on a global level, while stimulating economic development and generating more jobs for Canadians.
Capitalizing on uncertainty in the United States by making Canada Visas easier
Despite claims made by Mr Bains that the new scheme had long been in the pipeline, the announcement of the program comes at a time when the impact of President Donald Trump’s ‘America-First’ attitude are being felt.
Details of the new initiative were made public just days after United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) said that it would soon be ‘suspending expedited applications for highly skilled workers for up to six months’ in order to deal with a huge backlog.
Mr Bains stated that recruiting ‘low-risk’, highly-skilled workers from overseas was a key concern for business enterprises of all sizes that he had spoken with. He did not specify a limit on the types of job roles that could be hired for, up to and including C-suite executives.
However, this is provided that companies can demonstrate that recruiting via the new program will contribute to the long-term enhancement of skills and the creation of jobs for Canadians.
Canada Visa Streamlined labour-market impact assessment program
It’s understood that the Global Talent scheme will enable participating employers to take advantage of a more efficient labour-market impact assessment program that will help them to navigate the application procedure within 10 business days, while worker applications will also be processed within 10 days.
According to Mr Bains, the program gives real focus to the local challenges in Canada, especially those encountered by companies facing skills shortages looking to expand and scale-up.
In Canada, it can take close to a year for a company to recruit a highly-skilled worker from overseas. Ron Glibbery, the CEO of Peraso Technologies Inc – a wireless chip company and the venue where the scheme was announced – said: “It takes so long, they find other jobs.”
“We’re just thrilled that this new policy is coming into play. What this program really allows us to do is scale with quality,” Mr Glibbery added.
Referring to Mr Glibbery’s comments, Bains stated that the loss of potential overseas talent occurs on a regular basis. He said: “The speed, scope and change of technology is really fast. The quick processing time really allows companies to be nimble, to keep pace with the change in demand.”
New Canadian Visa Scheme will attract more talent
According to Carol Leaman, the CEO of Axonify Inc., the new scheme could potentially attract more foreign workers to Waterloo in Ontario – where her business is based. She said that there is a need for more ‘smart people, period.’ She added that welcoming highly-skilled workers from other countries provides a new perspective.
Leaman also cited different experiences of overseas workers as a reason why Canada needs highly-skilled foreign workers, saying that ‘the experience of world-class talent could elevate the country in the global competitive stakes.’
Speaking on behalf of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, a spokesperson indicated that the finishing touches to the scheme are still being finalized, and stated that foreign nationals earning high salaries are generally granted a two-year skilled worker permit to take up a job role, with extensions available of no maximum duration.
According to the Information and Communications Technology Council, they estimate that Canada will require 182,000 workers for its industry sector by 2019. They said that the country would struggle to meet the demand.
The executive director of the Council of Canadian Innovators, Ben Bergen, stated that although foreign workers won’t plug the entire gap, it is at least a start. He said: “By expediting the process, we’ll be able to keep that talent that is so desirable all over the globe.”
Bains and Hajdu would not disclose the number of applications they anticipate receiving for the Global Talent scheme, with Hajdu firmly stating that demand would be generated by businesses, and not by individuals living in other nations.