Canadian tech firms want shorter visa wait times for foreign talent

Another file to watch in terms of how the government makes any changes to Express Entry and the requirement for labour market impact assessments (LMIAs):

Canada’s emerging tech sector is stepping up pressure on the federal government to speed up the immigration process so firms can more readily recruit top foreign talent.

The Council of Canadian Innovators – a lobby group that represents about 50 fast-growing Canadian tech firms – met last Friday with Innovation, Science and Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains at the Toronto headquarters of Wattpad, an online publishing-platform firm.

The group pressed its case for shortening visa approval times for in-demand foreign tech programming and executive talent to as little as three weeks from what is now a drawn-out, bureaucratic process typically lasting six months to a year.

“CCI is advocating a made-for-Canada fast-track visa program for tech, ideally in a less than two-month time frame to keep Canada’s technology scale-ups competitive with other countries” that have such programs, including Britain, Australia and Ireland, CCI executive director Benjamin Bergen said. The CCI is set to deliver a similar message to Immigration Minister John McCallum during two round tables in September.

Several of the roughly three dozen attendees said they were pleased with the reception from Mr. Bains. “I have not seen this much note taking in a meeting with a federal cabinet minister listening to CEOs before, so that was quite encouraging,” said J. Paul Haynes, CEO of digital-security firm eSentire Inc., based in Cambridge, Ont.

“It was a very constructive and meaningful dialogue,” Wattpad CEO Allen Lau said. “I’m very positive that our voice will be heard and the government would be able to understand the challenges we are facing.”

In an e-mailed statement, Mr. Bains called the conversation “very candid and thoughtful.” He discussed immigration and other concerns raised by the group, including their difficulties in getting government contracts, “in depth with the goal of how we can best work together to address them.” In an interview with The Globe and Mail last week, Mr. Bains indicated that changes to immigration policy favouring domestic tech employers were coming. “To make Canada a global centre for innovation, immigration will be key,” he said.

Mr. McCallum’s department is reviewing what is known as the “express entry” system, which has been plagued with delays. Under current rules, employers must show, when seeking to hire a foreign worker, that they have first made every effort to fill the job with Canadians. Many tech employers say this is a waste of time, money and effort when those they are looking to hire come from a very small pool of experienced global talent.

“We are acutely concerned about our ability to attract the best and the brightest around the world,” Mr. McCallum said recently. “Those are the people we want to attract.”

Source: Canadian tech firms want shorter visa wait times for foreign talent – The Globe and Mail

StatsCan looking for powers to make all surveys mandatory, compel data from companies

Will be interesting to see how the official opposition responds to this or whether, given the recognition by some prominent Conservatives that the arguments used to justify replacing the 2011 Census by the NHS were weak and wrong-headed, it lets this pass without comment:

Statistics Canada is privately floating the idea of new powers that would make all of its surveys mandatory by default and force certain companies to hand over requested data, such as credit card transactions and Internet search records.

Currently, the agency can ask for any information held by governments and businesses, but officials have long found it hard to get information like point-of-sale transactions that could give a more detailed and accurate picture of household spending.

The agency’s proposal would compel governments and companies to hand over information, and levy fines to discourage “unreasonable impositions” that “restrict or prevent the flow of information for statistical purposes.”

Corporate fines would depend on a company’s size and the length of any delays. The changes would also do away with the threat of jail time for anyone who refuses to fill out a mandatory survey, such as the long-form census.

The recommendations, contained in a discussion paper Statistics Canada provided to The Canadian Press, would enshrine in law the agency’s independence in deciding what data it needs and how to collect it.

New legislation to update the Statistics Act is expected to be tabled this fall, and the Liberals have promised to give Statistics Canada more freedom from government influence.

The current law permits the federal government to make unilateral changes — eliminating longitudinal studies about the Canadian population, for instance, or making the long-form census a voluntary survey, a Statcan spokesperson said.

Should the federal Liberals agree to the agency’s proposals, it would build a political wall between the government and Statistics Canada and ensure statistical decisions by the chief statistician take priority over political considerations.

StatsCan needs independence says Bains

Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains, who is responsible for Statistics Canada, said the government is still reviewing the Statistics Act. He said the government is committed to “strengthening the independence of Statistics Canada.”

“For a national statistical office to be credible, there must be a high degree of professional independence,” Bains said in a written statement.

“Canadians need to trust that their data are produced according to strict professional standards, ethics and scientific principles.”

Source: StatsCan looking for powers to make all surveys mandatory, compel data from companies – Politics – CBC News

Politician’s cancelled visit causes tension in Indo-Canadian communities

I think the existing policy, implemented under the Conservatives, is preferred rather than reinforcing political attachment to countries of origin:

The planned visit of an Indian politician to Canada to campaign to non-resident Indians and its ensuing cancellation has caused tension in Indo-Canadian communities.

Amarinder Singh of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee had planned to visit Canada to hold rallies and events in the GTA and Vancouver, according to news reports out of India, but cancelled the visit after a complaint was made by a human rights group called Sikhs for Justice to Global Affairs Canada and the Indian High Commission in Canada.

Mr. Singh instead interacted with Indo-Canadians and non-resident Indians—known as ‘NRIs’—via Skype.

When asked about the Canadian government’s involvement in the re-routing of Mr. Singh’s North American political tour, foreign ministry spokesperson Francois Lasalle pointed to a government policy banning political campaigning by foreigners, and wrote in an email that “Global Affairs Canada has made this policy very clear to all foreign missions in Canada (including bringing it to the attention of the Indian High Commission in Ottawa) and will continue to do so.”

Canada’s government enacted a policy in September 2011 that reads “the Government of Canada will continue to refuse requests by foreign States to include Canada in their respective extraterritorial electoral constituencies. Also, the Department will not allow foreign governments to conduct election campaigns in Canada or establish foreign political parties and movements in Canada.”

Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Navdeep Bains (Mississauga-Malton, Ont.) appeared to disagree with the government’s policy, saying that his constituents are engaged in international politics and that allowing politicians to visit communities is a matter of Charter rights.

“I think we have a very vibrant diaspora here in Canada that’s very engaged in domestic and international politics. I think we’re a country that supports a Charter. Freedom of expression, freedom of opinion, freedom of assembly. These are all Canadian attributes and we welcome any opportunity that politicians have when they want to come and engage with the diaspora, and I think that’s the message I heard from my constituents and that’s the message I relayed on to them,” he told The Hill Times.

Mr. Singh himself characterized the ban on his political action in much the same way, writing a letter to Mr. Trudeau on the matter. “It feels like a gag order that has left a very bad taste,” he wrote, according to a report from India Today.

Source: Politician’s cancelled visit causes tension in Indo-Canadian communities |