Immigration Into Canada: How 2017 Can Bring Talent to Your Business

by Thom Tracy

3 min read

The Canadian government plans on opening the door to more foreign skilled workers in 2017, which is potentially exciting news for small business owners across the country. According to reports from CanadaVisa, the total admission target for all immigration categories is increasing from the 260,000 average between 2011 and 2015 to 300,000 in 2017. The bulk of the increase will be immigrants in the Economic Programs category.

Economic migrants have been a blessing for the Canadian economy in the past. If your business exists in an industry where targeted workers may be arriving, this could be a chance to attract new talent and reap the benefits of workplace diversity.

Immigration Class: Economic Programs

In terms of attracting and admitting highly educated and skilled immigrants, Canada is at the top among Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, or OECD, countries. Since the end of 2010, Canada has experienced a steady growth in migrant employment, which many believe was instrumental in helping the economy avoid a long slump after 2008, unlike the United States and Europe.

Canada’s immigrants are broken down into different categories, such as Economic, Family, Refugees, and other humanitarian programs. The Economic Program targets applicants, and their accompanying family members, who have the skills and experience to quickly contribute to a thriving business environment. These are the kinds of workers who most directly create jobs, provide useful services, innovate, and tend to be net taxpayers.

Economic migrants are expected to increase from 160,000 to 172,500, or a little over 7%, year over year from 2016 to 2017. This could be ideal timing since the ever-evolving tech and gig economies are changing the structure of the Canadian workforce in ways that create openings for global talent.

In particular, economic migrants can immediately fill jobs in IT, online services, energy, and every form of engineering. The mining and forestry industries always need new hands. If a small business wants to expand internationally and get access to consumer markets in America, Europe, or Asia, then it may be appropriate to find workers who are familiar with those regions.

Different Realities in Different Provinces

For years, workers from other provinces and around the world flocked to Alberta to participate in the most recent oil boom. Since the unexpected decline in oil prices after 2014, however, Alberta is experiencing net economic emigration. Places such as British Columbia have been the beneficiaries of the Albertian exodus, especially in construction, forestry, transportation, and real estate.

These are the kinds of microeconomic factors that your small business should take into consideration if you are interested in migrant talent. If your company operates in a high-inflow area, you are going to have a larger pool to consider. At the same time, you’re going to face more competition. If you work in an area where local labour is fleeing, maybe new immigrants are the solution you need to fill an open position.

In fact, skilled migrants are often the optimal choice for businesses in struggling provinces, such as Nova Scotia or New Brunswick, or in sparsely populated areas, such as Yukon and Nunavut. Oftentimes, the most qualified local candidates find it easier to pick up and leave for competitive jobs in other regions. This can leave a skills gap that talented immigrants can comfortably fill.

Provincial Nominees

In 11 Canadian provinces or territories, certain immigrants may be nominated to participate in the Provincial Nominee Program, or PNP. The PNP exists to fast-track economically beneficial immigrants to receive permanent resident status within a particular province.

As a potential employer of skilled immigrant labour, the Canadian PNP system allows you to entice labourers who already want to live in your province, or in whichever province the potential job opportunity is open. In turn, your business can help the potential migrant employee settle down more quickly.

PNPs are among the reasons why Canadian immigration has such a positive effect on the Canadian economy. For higher and lower-skilled economic immigrants, the PNP pathway is a less-centralised and more-regionalised option that enables them to go exactly where economic needs are most urgent.

Introducing a Migrant Employee

If you hire a migrant employee, especially a higher-skilled economic immigrant, chances are the employee brings valuable international expertise or technical expertise. However, he or she may lack professional or personal networks in the area and lack occupation-specific terminology, especially in French Canada.

It is a good idea to help your new employee ingratiate his or herself into the local community, whether business or otherwise. Encourage other members of your team to be neighborly and accessible. This helps everyone feel more comfortable adjusting to the new dynamics more quickly, buy into your team and business model, and start contributing.

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