Filling the Gap Through Economic Immigration

Year: 
2016

Preamble

As Canada’s Asia Pacific Gateway, the Province of British Columbia is positioned to tap into talent from other countries to fill gaps in the labour force, contributing to the ever-changing face of business today. Demographic challenges and competition amongst jurisdictions are growing significantly and the pace of demand for talented individuals means that Canadian companies must be allowed to effectively compete in this global context. Without the ability to tap into this highly-mobile talent pool, Canadian companies will fall behind, hampering our economic prosperity and reducing the opportunities available to all Canadians.

Business Issue

Chamber members are citing challenges in hiring and housing qualified workers as a barrier to growth. In urban centres with high costs of living, like Vancouver, Toronto, and Victoria, it becomes particularly challenging to fill gaps at the mid- to lower-end of the employment spectrum, particularly for skilled, entry-level as well as low-skilled, difficult-to-fill positions. Businesses then turn to hiring foreign workers, but are often frustrated by a complex bureaucracy and lengthy timelines.

Background

The next 20 years will see a continued exit of baby boomers from the workforce. This exit will create a strain on national finances in the form of reduced income tax revenue and an increasing expense in the health care system as the baby boomers age. As our workforce shrinks, demand will rise, and employers will have increasing challenges attracting and retaining the workers they need, when they need them.

The Government of Canada plans to bring in between 280,000 and 305,000 new permanent residents in 2016. Of this number, 160,600 people are expected under economic immigration, comprised of experienced professionals and skilled workers to support Canada’s long-term economic growth.

Overview

Immigration to Canada can be either on a permanent basis or temporary in nature, such as to visit, study or work. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) handles large volumes of permanent and temporary resident applications across its extensive global processing network. The process of managing immigration files includes protecting the health, safety and security of Canadians. In collaboration with partners in the Public Safety portfolio as well as the Department of Justice and Health Canada, IRCC works to identify applicants who could pose security or health risks to Canadians. IRCC also works in partnership with other countries to mitigate risks and protect Canada from international threats.

To meet the admission targets set out in the immigration levels plan, IRCC must balance pressures related to processing high volumes of applications for temporary residence with backlog reduction strategies for various permanent immigration programs.

Process

Every foreign worker must obtain a work permit to legally work in Canada. The process by which a work permit is issued involves a complex employment confirmation scheme involving Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) and IRCC.

As a general rule, an IRCC visa and immigration officer is not authorized to issue a work permit to a foreign worker unless, in the opinion of the officer, there are insufficient Canadians or permanent residents who can fill the potential position.

Involvement of ESDC is a convenient way for visa and immigration officers to determine whether the employment of the foreign worker is justified given current labour market conditions. With a confirmation of a valid job offer and a favourable opinion known as the "labour market impact assessment" (LMIA) from ESDC – provided security and medical qualifications have been met - the visa and immigration officer will then issue a work permit to the foreign worker. The process generally requires consultation with the employer and ESDC, national advertising and/or recruitment efforts, substantial documentary support and possible involvement of other government agencies. Without a positive LMIA assessment, a foreign candidate with a job offer often will not qualify for entry.

Temporary

Under the Temporary Foreign Workers Program (TFWP), IRCC facilitates the temporary entry of foreign workers needed to address labour market shortages and to provide other economic opportunities for Canadians, such as job creation and the transfer of new skills and knowledge. With a few exceptions, foreign workers must have an approved job offer and a work permit before arriving in Canada.

Permanent

IRCC manages the permanent entry of foreign workers under the Economic Class, including programs such as Federal Skilled Workers, Provincial Nominee, Live-in Caregiver as well as Business. Due to the lengthy timelines associated with applications for permanent residency, employers may turn to the TFWP as a faster alternative, which can be days. As an added benefit, employing a TFWP worker who is applying for permanent residency may increase the candidate’s eligibility as she or he gains Canadian experience.

Timelines

As outlined in Annex A, the processing times for entry as a permanent resident can be lengthy, anywhere from 9 to 97 months. The lengthy timelines, coupled with the LMIA requirement, creates a scenario where the employer identifies the required talent and makes a job offer, but the candidate is either not selected to immigrate or has moved on to other opportunities in the interim. Skilled foreign nationals have personal lives and families to consider, and for them as well as their prospective employers in Canada, the unpredictability in the provision of the talent to meet organizational objectives is highly problematic.

Express Entry

Introduced in 2015, Canada’s Express Entry system promised transformative change in economic immigration and the opportunity for employers to be involved in immigrant selection.

Express Entry is an electronic application management system for skilled workers to seek permanent residency. It adds a competitive element by selecting candidates based on their scores in a comprehensive ranking system. Scores are assigned based on factors such as education, Canadian work experience and valid job offers.

Job offers must be accompanied by a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) from

Service Canada to confirm that no Canadian or permanent resident is available to take the job. Without the assessment, a foreign candidate with a job offer will not receive the 600 points, without which the candidate will likely not receive an invitation from IRCC to apply for permanent residency through the Express Entry system.

By inserting the LMIA process into Express Entry, the government has put two competing policy principles in play. On the one hand, the Government of Canada wants to facilitate employers’ access to a pool of international talent, and on the other hand, it does not want employers to look at international candidates because the government wants Canadians first in the jobs. In the past, the government had other ways to validate job offers for permanent residency applicants. The LMIA is the wrong policy tool for this purpose.

The new government can simply and effectively adjust the system by bringing back a demand-driven focus to immigrant selection. The Canadian Chamber recommends that the government award points in the Express Entry process for a job offer, without requiring a Labour Market Impact Assessment. Instead of an LMIA, the department could build on the Arranged Employment Opinion (AEO) approach that was used in the Federal Skilled Worker Program until May 2013.

Summary

Canadian businesses face an unprecedented level of competition. In order to create jobs and contribute to our country’s standard of living, they must have access to the best possible talent. Improving the current process will increase Canadian competitiveness and ensure that newcomers more successfully integrate into the Canadian economy.

THE CHAMBER RECOMMENDS:

That the Federal government:

  1. Award points in the Express Entry process for a job offer, without requiring a Labour Market Impact Assessment; and

  2. Build on the Arranged Employment Opinion (AEO) approach that was used in the Federal Skilled Worker Program until May 2013.

Annex A: Processing Times (Permanent)[1]

 

Annex B: Processing Times (Temporary)[2]

Immigration Categories 

% Finalized

2015 (mos)

2014 (mos)

 

Immigration Categories

% Finalized

2015 (days)

2014 (days)

 Federal Skilled Workers (C-50)

50%

9

31

 

Temporary Resident Visas Processed Abroad

50 %

7

6

70%

12

46

 

70 %

12

10

80%

14

51

 

80%

16

14

Federal Skilled Workers (MI-1)

50%

61

52

 

Study Permits Processed Abroad

50 %

15

18

70%

65

54

 

70 %

28

31

80%

67

56

 

80%

38

39

Federal Skilled Workers (MI-2 and beyond)

50%

9

14

 

Temporary Work Permits Processed Abroad

50 %

12

14

70%

11

23

 

70 %

35

34

80%

13

31

 

80%

48

57

Federal Skilled Workers (MI-2)

50%

51

38

 

 

 

 

 

70%

53

41

 

 

 

 

 

80%

55

43

 

 

 

 

 

Federal Skilled Workers (MI-3 and beyond)

50%

9

12

 

 

 

 

 

70%

11

17

 

 

 

 

 

80%

13

24

 

 

 

 

 

Business

50%

65

59

 

 

 

 

 

70%

97

63

 

 

 

 

 

80%

97

66

 

 

 

 

 

Entrepreneurs

50%

88

73

 

 

 

 

 

70%

97

82

 

 

 

 

 

80%

97

87

 

 

 

 

 

Self Employed

50%

65

35

 

 

 

 

 

70%

97

48

 

 

 

 

 

80%

97

71

 

 

 

 

 

Investors

50%

73

60

 

 

 

 

 

70%

82

63

 

 

 

 

 

80%

87

64

 

 

 

 

 

Live-in Caregiver Program

50%

27

22

 

 

 

 

 

70%

41

38

 

 

 

 

 

80%

47

43

 

 

 

 

 

Provincial Nominees

50%

11

9

 

 

 

 

 

70%

13

12

 

 

 

 

 

80%

15

15

 

 

 

 

 

Canadian Experience Class

50%

11

10

 

 

 

 

 

70%

14

11

 

 

 

 

 

80%

15

12

 

 

 

 

 

 

Annex C: Approval Ratios1

Immigration Categories

2015

2014

2013

Jan 1 to Dec 31

Jan 1 to Dec 31

Jan 1 to Dec 31

Cases Passed

Cases Refused

Approval Rate*

Cases Passed

Cases Refused

Approval Rate*

Cases Passed

Cases Refused

Approval Rate*

Skilled Workers

21,285

2,366

90%

14,125

3,562

80%

16,786

3,733

82%

Federal Skilled Workers (Pre-C-50**)

36

26

58%

289

133

68%

1,859

496

79%

Federal Skilled Workers (C-50)

21,249

2,340

90%

13,836

3,429

80%

14,927

3,237

82%

Federal Skilled Workers (MI-1)

528

204

72%

5,169

1,250

81%

8,956

1,383

87%

Federal Skilled Workers (MI-2)

129

75

63%

907

328

73%

2,262

377

86%

Federal Skilled Workers (MI-3 & beyond)

20592

2061

91%

7,760

1,851

81%

3,709

1,477

72%

Business

1,624

1,226

24%

871

1,096

44%

1,419

638

69%

Entrepreneurs

63

3

89%

61

138

31%

106

192

36%

Self Employed

303

1,145

19%

123

374

25%

98

150

40%

Investors

1,218

71

58%

683

579

54%

1,215

296

80%

Provincial Nominees

21,692

1,096

95%

19,053

1,032

95%

20,906

648

97%

Live-in Caregiver Program

13,423

732

95%

13,674

506

96%

7,277

255

97%

Canadian Experience Class

11,614

1,296

90%

13,919

625

96%

5,368

1,957

73%

Skilled Trades

1,117

158

88%

63

112

36%

15

36

29%

*Approval Rate: Cases Approved / Cases (Approved + Refused) 

 

**FSW C-50 are Federal Skilled Workers with application received date after February 26, 2008

Annex D: Approval Rations (Temporary)2

 

2015

2014

2013

Temporary Resident Visas Processed Abroad

1,301,138

279,605

82%

1,107,758

252,359

81%

974,335

202,089

83%

Study Permits Processed Abroad

132,956

53,576

71%

127,329

49,867

72%

119,096

38,535

76%

Temporary Work Permits Processed Abroad

181,143

17,437

91%

139,196

25,125

85%

136,275

22,362

86%

Footnotes

[1] Permanent Resident Applications Processed Abroad and Processing Times (CCIR, April 2016