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Parisa Mahboubi - Canada Can Do More in Race for Skilled Workers

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From: Parisa Mahboubi

To: Concerned Canadians

Date: June 12, 2017

Re: Canada Can Do More in Race for Skilled Workers

A number of global destinations are tightening immigration and temporary foreign workers controls. This presents Canada with the opportunity to get more out of the world’s mobile skilled workforce. The new Global Skills Strategy seems to take advantage of this opportunity by positioning Canada as a perfect destination for highly-skilled talent.

The strategy includes a new Global Talent Stream of the Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) program, launched on June 12th.  The purpose of this new stream initiative is to fulfill Canada’s skills needs and address industry labour shortages in a timely manner.

The new stream is designed to reduce red tape on businesses, including start-ups, when hiring high-skilled workers. With this initiative, employers only face a two-week standard for processing a work permit application. In addition, no work permit is required for highly skilled workers who wish to work for 30 days or less in a 12-month period.

Attracting talent is vital to economic growth, given rapid technological changes and an aging population.  A nimble and thoughtful response of government was necessary to fulfill Canada’s skills needs and address industry labour shortages. The reduction in barriers for Canadian businesses hiring foreign talents should help innovative companies grow and create new jobs, by supporting business plans involving new investments in Canada.

Research shows that Canada is competing with the US, UK, Australia and New Zealand in the race to attract global talent. Having Canada open its door to the best and brightest  talent is timely and helps increase its competitiveness, just as the US administration seeks to implement more restrictive immigration policies, and other competing countries increase barriers to obtain work visas, making it harder for businesses to access  international skilled labour. Canada’s new strategy capitalizes on this by making it an even more attractive destination.

But more can be done in this respect. In order to attract and attain foreign workers with the right skills, the TFW program also needs to be improved through facilitating the permanent residency pathway for foreign skilled workers. Skilled temporary foreign workers who have Canadian experience are ideal candidates for immigration. The TFW program can offer a great opportunity to enhance the labour market outcomes of immigrants through this two-stage immigration process, as long as it is carefully calibrated and monitored in order to fulfill its key objective of temporarily meeting the labour market shortages in the absence of qualified Canadian residents.

Parisa Mahboubi is a Senior Policy Analyst at the C.D. Howe Institute

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