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

Express entry, foreign worker reforms attract ‘fewer’ skilled workers: chamber report

Express Entry Draws 2015.001Another item on Minister McCallum’s to do (or at least consider) list, passage below on Express Entry (the above chart shows the 23 rounds in 2015, and how the program has settled at around 1,500 invitations per draw, with a minimum score of about 40 percent of the total possible 1,200 points):

“The concept of attracting ‘the best and the brightest’ is missing in action,” says the new report, “as the competitive model of Express Entry is currently undermined by the protectionist policy embodied in the labour market impact assessment tool.”

As CBC reported in September, businesses say the labour market impact assessment (LMIA) — a new requirement borrowed from the newly reformed Temporary Foreign Worker Program — is the biggest flaw with Express Entry.

Under Canada’s new immigration system, highly-skilled foreign workers not only have to line up a job before applying to come to Canada but their job offer has to be backed by what the government calls a positive LMIA. That assessment is a document all employers now need to hire a foreign worker over a Canadian one.

The chamber calls the introduction of this new requirement a “misstep” that has made it “extremely challenging” for businesses to attract highly-skilled workers such as video game developers, top-flight researchers and workers in the trades.

Chamber calls for ‘sober, thoughtful review’

The 32-page report titled “Immigration for a Competitive Canada: Why Highly Skilled International Talent Is at Risk” lays out what Canadian businesses see as “missteps” with the immigration changes and offers 20 recommendations.

The recommendations include:

  • Removing the new requirement of a labour market impact assessment from the Express Entry system.

  • Tweak the points system under Express Entry to benefit high skilled workers applying under the International Mobility Program.

  • Reduce processing times for study permits and visas.

Source: Express entry, foreign worker reforms attract ‘fewer’ skilled workers: chamber report – Politics – CBC News

Temporary foreign workers get first dibs under express entry

More teething pains or more substantive problems? Early results or signalling a trend?

Jason Kenney, who was responsible for the Harper government’s transformation of Canada’s immigration system during his time as immigration minister, on Friday touted express entry as “a system that’s fast, that connects people to the labour market so they can realize their dreams and fulfil their potential upon arrival in Canada.”

“New economic immigrants are arriving in Canada in months rather than years,” Kenney said during a news conference in Vancouver.

“A growing percentage have jobs lined up before they get to Canada rather than being stuck in survival jobs for years following their arrival.”

While that may be the goal, express entry has opened the door to very few new economic immigrants. To date, it has favoured a large number of temporary foreign workers and other foreign nationals already in the country.

Over 85 per cent of the foreign nationals who were selected for admission under express entry in the first six months of the year — 11,047 out of 12,304 — were already in Canada, according to a report published by the Department of Citizenship and Immigration in July.

The report shows that three per cent were living in India, followed by two per cent in the U.S. and one per cent in the Philippines. Even smaller percentages resided in other countries.

As of July 6, Canada had issued 844 visas to foreign nationals and their dependents resulting in only 411 admissions being fast tracked for permanency residency.

“Implementing the express entry system was a significant undertaking and we continue to monitor it closely,” the government report said, cautioning it is only “a snapshot” intended to capture “one moment in time.”

While immigration officials are working tirelessly to iron the kinks out of the system, the report said Canada will meet its immigration quota not through express entry but by drawing from a backlog of applications submitted under the old system.

The majority of new economic immigrants to Canada will not be drawn using the new system until it’s in full flight in 2017.

‘Unusable’ for businesses

Businesses say the system’s biggest flaw is a new requirement borrowed from the newly reformed temporary foreign worker program, which Kenney and Chris Alexander announced last year following a series of stories published by CBC’s Go Public team alleging abuse of the program.

Under express entry, it isn’t enough that economic immigrants have to line up a job before applying to come to Canada — that offer must also be backed by a positive labour market impact assessment. That assessment, or LMIA, is a document all employers now need to hire a foreign worker over a Canadian one.

This is a new requirement under an economic stream that sees upwards of 250,000 new permanent residents admitted each year.

“It’s made it unusable for many employers that we hear from and for small and medium businesses,” said Sarah Anson-Cartwright, the director of skills policy at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, the largest business association in the country representing some 200,000 employers

Members of the Chamber, she said, are disillusioned with a process that has become too “onerous.” Employers are complaining that their assessment forms are being rejected due to inadvertent omissions or typos.

Source: Temporary foreign workers get first dibs under express entry – Politics – CBC News

Express entry immigration system starts Jan. 1, leaving employers uncertain

Like any new way of doing things, it will take some time to know how well it is working, and whether there are some unforeseen side-effects or changes in behaviour:

The [Canadian Chamber of Commerce’] Anson-Cartwright said that while the government has given employers a first-hand look at the new online system, it will be some time before businesses can say how well the system works at matching skilled immigrants with open jobs.

“The reality is, until we actually have employers experiencing the process, we don’t really know — and neither does the government — how well it will work,” she said.

Employers will not have the same “privileged access” as the provinces and territories, she added.

The provinces will have the option to search the express entry pool, while employers will have to rely on the government to identify potential workers.

“Youd rather see more detail and have a chance to make your own assessment, rather than waiting on individuals to pop up through virtue of how they’ve designed the job system.

“That’s the big uncertainty is how this job-matching system will actually work,” Anson-Cartwright said.

Express entry immigration system starts Jan. 1, leaving employers uncertain – Politics – CBC News.