Canada’s tech startup sector wants easier access to hire top foreign talent

Yet some more expected tweaks to Express Entry:

After winning a big concession in the budget on taxing stock options, Canada’s tech startup sector is braced for its next battle: urging Ottawa to fix immigration rules that limit its ability to hire top foreign talent.

The Express Entry system brought in by the last government in 2015 “is fundamentally too rigid” and leaves employers waiting up to six months to discover if they can bring skilled foreign talent to Canada, said Tobi Lutke, CEO of Ottawa-based software firm Shopify Inc. “That puts us at a huge disadvantage for recruiting internationally.”

Under policy changes enacted by the Conservatives, employers now must validate a job offer by getting government approval for a “Labour Market Impact Assessment” – showing it couldn’t find Canadians to do the job. While that approach targeted abusers of the temporary foreign worker program, it meant fast-growing tech firms searching for the best employees globally had to submit to the same drawn-out process, only to be told in many cases by Ottawa that they should just hire a Canadian.

“It was a misguided approach,” said Sarah Anson-Cartwright, director of skills and immigration policy for the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.

Immigration Minister John McCallum wasn’t available to comment. But a department spokesman said the government plans to review the Express Entry program “to see how it can be improved for potential immigrants such as top-level foreign executives. The review will include, likely among other things, the LMIA requirement.”

Tech startup leaders say the rules not only add delays but that the process lacks transparency and consistency, imposes needless bureaucracy and lacks an appeals process. In many cases, would-be recruits choose other offers rather than waiting. Foreign students awaiting government approval for their job offers sometimes must leave Canada when their study visas expire.

Six out of 10 employers surveyed by the Canadian Employee Relocation Council (CERC) last year said the immigration changes under the Tories had hindered their strategy planning and recruiting. One out of six opted to create the jobs abroad instead.

Curious to know the relative competitiveness of Canada vis-a-vis the US, given my understanding of the problems Silicon Valley has in hiring global talent.

Source: Canada’s tech startup sector wants easier access to hire top foreign talent – The Globe and Mail

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.

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