Canada’s hardest-hit economies need immigration to thrive again: Moffat

Mike Moffat on the need to remove the need for a Labour Market Impact Assessment for graduates of Canadian universities in Express Entry point scoring (another issue is to restored pre-Permanent Resident credit towards citizenship residency requirements for international students as was done prior to the 2014 changes in the Citizenship Act):

So how can London, Windsor, St. Catharines et. al. increase their population of talented twentysomethings? The region does an excellent job of importing talent as our institutes of higher education are worldwide magnets for young achievers. In London, Western and Fanshawe bring in some of the most gifted students in the world, teach them skills highly in demand in the region while they become familiar with Canadian culture. We then allow these graduates to stay in the country for a period of up to three years via Canada’sPost-Graduation Work Permit Program(PGWPP); tech companies Darren Meister, Kadie Ward and I interviewed in London told me how incredibly valuable these workers are.

They also told us that, despite these workers having graduated in Canada and being in the country around seven years, the Federal government makes it difficult (and some cases impossible) to keep them in the country. They are sent back home, and London has fewer talented young workers.

The issue stems, in part, from year-old changes to Canada’s express entry system which makes it impossible for someone in the PGWPP program to gain express entry without a Labour Market Impact Assessment, as chronicled by Nicholas Keung:

“The problem, which the federal government denies, lies in the significance given to a certificate called the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). It is issued by Ottawa to ensure a candidate’s skills are sufficiently in demand to warrant hiring an immigrant.

Ottawa says applicants for Express Entry, such as international graduates, do not need an LMIA to qualify. But Express Entry acceptance is based on a point system and it’s not possible to earn enough points without an LMIA, immigration experts say.

“The new system is flawed,” said Toronto immigration lawyer Shoshana Green. “We want people who went to school and have work experience in Canada. These people are already fully integrated. And now we are ignoring them. It is just bizarre.””

The process to obtain a LMIA is arduous for smaller growth companies, and navigating it can be difficult, as immigration lawyerRonalee Carey describes:

“Last month I sent a young woman back to Japan. She’d come to Canada as an international student first to finish high school, then to attend Sheridan College in their Animation Program. Her employer consulted me after their Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), because her position was denied. They had been paying her the median wage for Ontario, as opposed to Ottawa, which was slightly higher. Meanwhile, they had no idea there were median wages specific to Ottawa. They offered her a raise and resubmitted the LMIA application.”

But it was too late.

The young woman had been working on a post-graduate work permit. It had expired, and she’d applied for an extension. However, a positive LMIA was required for the extension. Ultimately, her work permit application was denied, because the new LMIA application had not yet been processed.

And so on the plane she went.

These stories are all too common according to the tech firms I have spoken to. In order to obtain an LMIA, one must prove to the federal government that “there is a need for the foreign worker to fill the job you are offering and that there is no Canadian worker available to do the job.” Not only does this place a large burden on growth companies to convince a bureaucrat about the lack of Canadians for the position, it is also completely counterproductive for communities where there is a desperate need for young talent. Furthermore, it may be impossible for these companies to prove this point to the government’s satisfaction. As immigration lawyer Evan Green asked the Globe and Mail, “…how do you prove for someone with [little] work experience that there is no Canadian to do the job?”

Southwestern Ontario is desperate for economic growth from startups. Startups are desperate for these talented workers. These workers are desperate to stay in Canada. Yet we are kicking them out. It makes absolutely no sense. If the federal government truly wants to help London and the rest of southwestern Ontario, the place to start is to recognize the region needs talented young people and to reform the Express Entry system to allow us to keep more of our graduates.

Source: Canada’s hardest-hit economies need immigration to thrive again

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: