With its current immigration policies, Canada risks losing its competitive advantage in attracting highly-skilled international talent, says the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.
The Express Entry system is not aligned with business needs, while restrictions to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program are hurting many high-value sectors across the economy. This new report, Immigration for a Competitive Canada: Why Highly Skilled International Talent Is at Risk, details the impacts of current immigration policies and proposes a number of solutions.
“Government launched the Express Entry system a year ago to attract highly-skilled talent, but we must now face the facts: it simply isn’t working for employers,” says Perrin Beatty, President and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. “The original goal of giving employers more leverage was lost along the way, and this report highlights the consequences. Canada is losing ground in attracting the talent employers need. We’ve identified a series of improvements that can rapidly be put in place. We call upon the government to act before conditions worsen.”
The report reveals that current policies undercut high-value growth sectors, from high tech to financial services to academic research. The previous government’s changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) and the International Mobility Program have also hurt many sectors. As a result, Canada has invited far fewer highly-skilled individuals to work here on a temporary basis. There has been a 40 per cent drop in higher-skilled work permit holders between 2013 and 2014 and a 45 per cent drop in positive labour market impact assessments which are required for work permits, since June 2014.
“Highly-skilled workers don’t take opportunities away from Canadians, they help us create them,” says Beatty.
“Canada depends on talented immigrants to boost our innovation performance, which is currently lagging behind many other developed countries. We can’t afford not to have the best process in place. As this report emphasizes, changes are necessary. We are an optimistic and welcoming country. Let’s not let bad policies stand in the way of talented people coming here to contribute to our economic growth.”
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce is the vital connection between business and the federal government. It helps shape public policy and decision-making to the benefit of businesses, communities and families across Canada with a network of over 450 chambers of commerce and boards of trade, representing 200,000 businesses of all sizes in all sectors of the economy and in all regions.