Government of Canada Outlines Plan to Fast-Track Arrival of Global Tech Talent in Fall Economic Statement - 02 November 2016
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The government of Canada has unveiled a Global Skills Strategy that will set an ambitious two-week standard for processing visas and work permits for global talent. Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau outlined the proposal to Parliament while delivering his department's Fall Economic Statement.
This initiative will look to support high-growth Canadian companies that need to access global talent in order to facilitate and accelerate investments that create jobs and growth. This will include companies that can demonstrate labour market benefits, such as increasing investments, knowledge transfer and Canadian job creation, as well as global companies that are making large investments, relocating to Canada, establishing new production or expanding production, and creating new Canadian jobs.
It is hoped that these measures will allow fast-growing Canadian tech firms and multinational corporations operating in Canada to hire skilled foreign workers quickly for jobs they are struggling to fill.
In addition to the Global Skills Strategy, the government is planning to introduce a new work permit exemption for short-duration work terms. The short-duration work permit exemption will apply for work terms of fewer than 30 days in a year, as well as brief academic stays, and will be used to facilitate short-term, inter-company work exchanges, study exchanges, or the entrance of temporary expertise.
The government is also providing $218 million over five years into a new foreign investment organization, with a chief executive and a dedicated sales force to attract global investors.
The Invest in Canada hub will be a new organization dedicated to promoting Canada as an investment option. The hub will work with the department of Global Affairs, the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service, and the department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada.
“Companies are telling us their biggest challenge is talent,” said Minister Morneau, who added that “We know that we have a compelling case for companies to come here .  . We have something to tell the world.”
For his part, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated that “Our future success is largely driven by attracting talented people from around the world. Our diversity not only brings its own economic and social rewards, but with Canada’s aging population, having a robust, effective, and efficient immigration system is critical to our long-term economic growth.”
Overall, the plans outlined in the government's Fall Economic Statement have been received positively by companies working in the technology sector in Canada, which now boasts several billion-dollar companies, including Shopify, Inc., Hootsuite Media Inc. and Kik Interactive Inc.
“We think this [Global Skills Strategy] will be a game-changer,” said Alexandra Clark, Shopify’s director of policy and government affairs. “Scalability is directly related to success for Canadian companies. What we heard today is that will be increasingly easier for Canadian companies to compete globally.”
According to the Information and Communications Technology Council, Canada faces the prospect of needing an additional 200,000 information, technology and communications workers by 2020. The government's initiative aims to alleviate those labour shortages over the coming years.
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