Canada’s federal government has announced that it will launch the Global Skills Strategy (GSS) on June 12, 2017. This program is designed to help Canadian companies to source global talent on an expedited basis. It engages both Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC), the department responsible for the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and Labour Market Impact Assessments, and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), the department responsible for the International Mobility Program and Work Permit processing.

The GSS includes a Global Talent Stream managed by ESDC which aims to benefit two categories of Canadian companies:

  • Category A – high-growth firms that can demonstrate a need for unique talent to scale up and grow, resulting in job creation and knowledge transfer to Canadians; and
  • Category B – firms who need to hire highly skilled foreign nationals for occupations on a new “Skills Shortage List”, resulting in training investments for Canadian workers.

Under this program, employers will have access to a new dedicated service channel to guide them through the application process. Applications to ESDC for a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) will be processed in 10 business days. Similarly, applications for Work Permits to IRCCC will be processed in 10 business days.

Eligible firms in Category A could be in any economic sector but would need to meet certain “high-growth” criteria and be referred to the Global Talent Stream by designated partners.

Eligible firms in Category B would have to demonstrate that they need global talent to fill occupations on a new “Skills Shortage List” and would need to pay at least the prevailing wage for these positions.

A new “Labour Market Benefits Plan” will be required by ESDC from GT Stream employers with metrics to assist in tracking job creation, knowledge transfer and skills and training benefits for Canadians.

Occupations on the Skills Shortage List would be exempt from the need for Canadian recruitment/advertising with the result that employers could save four weeks of advertising and uncertainty as to the outcome of the process.

It is also proposed that there will be a Work Permit exempt category for short duration, high value work. This could include intra-company work exchanges or academic exchanges. These applicants would be eligible to enter Canada (possibly as Business Visitors) for short term periods of employment, e.g. one 30 day period or two 15 day periods, or for academic exchanges of up to 120 days. The intention is to begin with NOC skill levels 0 and A, possibly expanding to include some skill level B occupations.

IRCC will also provide selected employers who are creating jobs or making significant investments in Canada with a dedicated client service representative at IRCC.

While there is still a need to “put flesh on the bones” of this proposal by defining the eligibility criteria in more detail, it is to be hoped that these initiatives will alleviate the red tape and lengthy delays presently encountered by high-growth Canadian firms in recruiting and bringing foreign talent to Canada.