Half of Canadian Businesses Limiting Growth Because of Skilled Worker Labour Shortage: Survey

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Half of Canadian Businesses Limiting Growth Because of Skilled Worker Labour Shortage: Survey

A new study says more than half of Canada’s small and medium-sized businesses are to limit investment because of a skilled worker labour shortage.

The Business Development Bank of Canada survey shows 53 percent of SMEs say their growth is being stunted because they cannot find the right staff.

Despite immigration initiatives at the federal and provincial levels to tackle the issues, businesses say they need more help to find the right staff with the right skillsets.


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What Has Been Done To Tackle The Skilled Worker Labour Shortage?

Increasing Skilled Worker Immigration

Since coming to power in 2015, the current government has moved to increase immigration, particularly in the skilled worker category.

In 2019, the federal high-skilled immigration target is 81,400 newcomers, rising to 88,800 by 2021, if the Liberals remain in power. 

Overall, Canada is expected to welcome 191,600 economic immigrants in 2019 out of 330,800 new permanent residents.


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Global Talent Stream

One of the federal Liberal government’s most successful policies has been the Global Talent Stream, falling under the Global Skills Strategy.

It allows businesses to hire skilled workers from abroad in high-demand occupations to access 10-day processing for work permit and Labour Market Impact Assessment.

The GTS has given Canadian SMEs the edge over their U.S. counterparts at a time when the Donald Trump administration has ramped up the red tape for firms looking to hire foreign workers.

Skilled worker immigration candidates can find themselves waiting for months in the U.S. for a visa they can secure in 10 working days here in Canada.

Once here, the experience they gather counts towards an application for permanent residence through the Express Entry system, which awards points for secured jobs offers in high demand occupations.

Provincial Initiatives

Both British Columbia and Ontario now offer priority processing for jobs in high-demand, through the B.C. PNP Tech Pilot and Ontario Tech Draws.

Both provincial immigration streams feature lists of in-demand occupations for the provinces in question.

Meanwhile, after the controversial scrapping of immigration applications under the old system, Quebec has begun issuing invites through its new Expression of Interest system, known as Arrima.

Once the system hits full capacity, it will pave the way for thousands of new skilled worker immigrants to arrive in Quebec with processing times in the region of six months.

The governing Coalition Avenir Quebec has reduced immigration levels for 2019 but is planning managed increases in the coming years.

Businesses in Quebec, where the labour shortage is at its most acute, have called on the CAQ to increase immigration more steeply, with around 40,000 new arrivals expected in 2019, down from around 52,000 in 2018.

Municipal Nominee Program?

With a federal election coming on October 21, the Liberals under Justin Trudeau have promised a new Municipal Nominee Program, if they are re-elected.

This will allow economies in smaller areas of Canada to select exactly the immigrants needed to help businesses grow.

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Colin Singer is an international acclaimed Canadian immigration lawyer featured on Wikipedia. Colin Singer is founding director of the Canadian Citizenship & Immigration Resource Center (CCIRC) Inc. He served as an Associate Editor of ‘Immigration Law Reporter’, the pre-eminent immigration law publication in Canada. He previously served as an executive member of the Canadian Bar Association’s Quebec and National Immigration Law Sections and is currently a member of the Canadian Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. Colin has twice appeared as an expert witness before Canada’s House of Commons Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration. He is frequently recognized as a recommended authority at national conferences sponsored by government and non-government organizations on matters affecting Canada’s immigration and human resource industries. Since 2009, Colin has been a Governor of the Quebec Bar Foundation a non-profit organization committed to the advancement of the profession, and became a lifetime member in 2018.