Employers in many industries have shared a common experience. They lament that the immigration programs currently available can create excessive barriers to the growth of their companies.

Due to labour shortages in certain sectors, employers must rely on foreign workers to fill critical positions, allowing their companies to scale and create more Canadian employment opportunities. However, after months of recruitment just to source foreign workers, employers may find it takes several months to secure approvals and work permits in the current immigration programs. The result is that top high-skilled talent could be lost, unable to wait months to come and work in Canada.

On June 12, 2017, the Canadian Government launched a new immigration pilot program to enable faster processing of high-skill foreign national workers. The Global Talent Stream was created to provide faster processing of specialized Labour Market Impact Assessments (“LMIA”).

The Global Talent Stream will also create a two-week processing period for certain work permit types under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and International Mobility Program, along with some new work permit exemptions.

The Global Talent Stream hopes to provide Canadian companies with quick access to the skilled labour that is required to compete in the global economy. As a pilot program, the Global Talent Stream will have an initial run of 24 months.

In this blog, we will focus on the changes the Global Talent Stream brings to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and the LMIA application process. For more details on expedited work permit processing and new work permit exemptions, please see our companion blog post.

The Global Talent Stream creates a new stream for expedited LMIA applications with two main categories.

  • Category A – Partner Referred: Your company may be eligible for a Global Talent Stream LMIA if it has been referred to the Global Talent Stream by one of Employment and Social Development Canada’s (“ESDC”) designated partners, and if your company is hiring unique and specialized talent.
  • Category B – Global Talent Occupations List: Your company may be eligible if you are seeking to hire highly-skilled foreign workers to fill positions in occupations founded on the Global Talent Occupations List.

Let’s look at these new categories in further detail.

Category A – Partner Referred

Category A concerns organizations that have been referred to the program by one of ESDC’s designated partners, and who are hiring unique and specialized talent.

As of June 12, 2017, the following organizations have been designated as Global Talent Stream referral partners:

Western Canada

  • BC Tech Association
  • Economic Development Winnipeg
  • Edmonton Economic Development Corporation
  • ICT Manitoba (ICTAM)
  • Vancouver Economic Commission

National

  • Business Development Bank of Canada
  • Council of Canadian Innovators
  • Global Affairs Canada’s Trade Commissioner Service
  • Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada – Accelerated Growth Service
  • National Research Council – Industrial Research Assistance Program

Eastern Canada

  • Communitech Corporation
  • Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario
  • MaRS Discovery District
  • Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration
  • Ontario Ministry of Economic Growth and Development

Atlantic Canada

  • Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency
  • VENN Innovation

A “unique and specialized talent” is determined by the following criteria:

  • Advanced knowledge of the industry;
  • Advanced degree in an area of specialization of interest to the employer; and/or
  • Minimum of five years’ experience in the field of specialized experience; and
  • A highly paid position with a salary of usually $80,000 or more.

This category is intended to provide access to the Global Talent Stream when the employer is in a high-growth industry but is not necessarily in the targeted information technology fields where shortages are seen to be a greater concern (as set out in Category B and the Global Talent Occupations List below).

Category B – Global Talent Occupations List

Category B of the Global Talent Stream allows employers to hire highly skilled foreign workers to fill positions in occupations found in Global Talent Occupations List. This list may be periodically updated.

If you are seeking a Global Talent Stream LMIA for an occupation on this list, there is no need for an ESDC partner referral or evidence of unique and specialized talent.

Note: This list is current as of June 12, 2017 – reproduced from the Government of Canada website.

National Occupations Classification code Occupation Minimum wage requirement (annual salary) Minimum wage requirement (hourly rate)
0213 Computer and information systems managers N/A N/A
2147 Computer engineers (except software engineers and designers) N/A N/A
2171 Information systems analysts and consultants N/A N/A
2172 Database analysts and data administrators N/A N/A
2173 Software engineers and designers N/A N/A
2174 Computer programmers and interactive media developers N/A N/A
2175 Web designers and developers N/A N/A
2241 Electrical and electronics engineering technologists and technicians $81,000 $38.94
2283 Information systems testing technicians $78,000 $37.50
Sub-set of 5241 Digital media and design

*position requires a minimum of five years of industry experience, and skills requirements including: 3D modeling, virtual and augmented reality; animation, level editing, editor and pipeline software and tools in applicable industry; other specialized knowledge of software framework in applicable industry (for example, Unreal 3.0); and/or experience in planning and managing a project.

$80,000 $38.46

Other Items of Note for Employers

For both categories, there are some additional items employers should consider before deciding to access the Global Talent Stream.

Unlike the standard LMIA process, there is no obligation to undertake the standard 28-day recruitment period. This will greatly save time and costs for employers who are seeking to source high-skilled talent where they know there are already shortages in the Canadian labour market. Notwithstanding, employers are still expected to make efforts to source Canadian workers first.

The application fee of $1,000 per position still applies to the Global Talent Stream LMIA categories.

Employers applying under the Global Talent Stream are subject to a range of compliance requirements, which include areas such as workplace safety, wage and language standards.

In addition, an employer seeking to apply under the Global Talent Stream must work with ESDC to develop a Labour Market Benefits Plan. This plan must demonstrate the employer’s commitment to activities that will have a positive impact on the Canadian labour market. Employers’ commitments will vary depending on whether they are using Category A or B. These commitments are divided into mandatory and complementary “benefits.” This would be a more complicated version of the Transition Plan already required in standard LMIA applications.

Final Thoughts

The Global Talent Stream is a newly implemented pilot project and its impact has yet to be determined. As some employers will already be aware, the Government’s prior attempts at improving processing times within the Temporary Foreign Worker Program have had mixed success. The current 10-day LMIA stream rarely, if ever, hits that date.

Further, with the amount of involvement ESDC will have in application process, it is difficult to understand how they will have the capacity to process applications in the timelines provided. Employers should approach the Global Talent Stream with cautious optimism.

To understand how to most effectively use the Global Talent Stream, and to ensure compliance with it, employers should contact a legal professional.