Let's start welcoming more Tech Talent to Canada!
This petition had 872 supporters
Canada’s economy is stalling. Oil is at it’s lowest point since 2003 and the Loonie is at it’s lowest in 20 years.
The only bright spot in the economy is the growth of the tech sector with Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver being selected as top 20 Startup cities worldwide in 2015.
However, this growth is also in jeopardy as companies are finding it harder and harder to hire top talent to keep fuelling their growth. According to a the 2015 ICT Labour market report, there’s a projected lack of 182,000 tech professionals in Canada by 2019.
Our new Government has been doing a good job promoting Canada's innovation sector. At the 2016 World Economic Forum our Prime Minister clearly stated his vision saying, "I want you to know Canadians for our resourcefulness." Channeling his best Harold Innis, Trudeau obviously wants to repudiate the idea that we’re a country culturally and economically dependent on its status as the “hewers of wood and drawers of water.”
It takes people to be resourceful. And, it takes more that just natural resources to be a player in today's global economy. As Glen Hodgson (senior vice-president and chief economist at the Conference Board of Canada), and Danielle Goldfarb (director of the Global Commerce Centre at the Conference Board of Canada) recently highlighted “our thinking, policies and activities at home will need to transform accordingly to facilitate this integration of goods, services and technology, ideally creating a competitive advantage.”
Unquestionably, technology is at the heart of our ongoing economic transformation. But to be a world leader, it also will take world class talent and brainpower. The gap between Canada’s technology companies talent needs and the available talent pool is like a deep dark chasm. We don’t know it’s real depth, yet it’s a significant uncertainty marking today’s reality from coast to coast, for big technology companies to small.
Yes, fixing our immigration system will be hard, but there’s there’s little doubt it’s broken. When there’s stories like Ukrainian 3D graphics artist Illia Guliaiev, we shake our head. The Toronto Star’s story Frustration abounds for immigrants stuck in backlog reported that “his work permit with Gameloft in Montreal expired, and he waited 145 days for a bridging visa toward a new job at a computer game developer in Toronto.” The article further highlighted, “Immigration officials said there are about 6,000 CEC applications in the backlog, but their goal is to process them all within six months.”
More proof of broken the process according to the Financial Post (Canada’s Express Entry program for skilled immigrants showing growing pains) “according to a mid-year report released by CIC, a total of 41,218 foreign nationals were active in the Express Entry pool as of July. CIC was not available for comment.”
Whether it’s immigrant already here or waiting and wanting to be here, you’ll find people in this broken and backlogged system who are senior software developers with 10, 15 or even 20 plus years experience. They dream of living in a safe, secure, progressive country in order to expand their careers and work with great companies.
There’s little progress to report about their plans to address the glaringly obvious need of welcoming talented new people into Canada. Unfortunately our immigration system today is better at crushing dreams. Our system is better at losing opportunities to other countries, than it is for welcoming people who will help propel our economy to greater prosperity.
The time for analysis is over. For almost a year now, Canada’s private sector has been advocating for a change to the current immigration system which is creating a bottleneck on the ability to grow. The Canadian Chamber of Commerce, supported by Google Canada, RBC and Ubisoft, among others, recently published 32-page report titled "Immigration for a Competitive Canada: Why Highly Skilled International Talent Is at Risk" calling for the government to change key factors in Express Entry such a removing the dreaded, arduous, and untransparent LMIA (Labour Market Impact Assessment) process and increasing communication between Service Canada and Employers.
A simple Indeed search for "Senior Developer" yields over 3,600 results, many of which have been open for months. Not having these jobs filled is hampering the growth of our tech ecosystem and since Tech Salaries are 46% higher than average, this means a lot of lost revenues for the Federal Government as well.
Companies like Shopify and Wattpad have been cited in the Globe and Mail and vocal about the current government policies having a negative impact on their growth plans. We’ll see more Canadian companies choosing to open office overseas to get closer to the talent they need. These moves will cost us even more jobs.
Recently, Allen Lau, CEO of Wattpad, was on CBC’s Canadian Innovators explaining how a Fast Track visa for tech talent would benefit our ecosystem. We’re seeing example of other countries already beating us to the punch, for instance the UK has launched the Tech Nation Visa; and The Netherlands now has a ‘Highly Skilled Migrants’ visa which provides a two-week response time and other attractive benefits. Ireland also launched Tech Life Ireland, a website 100% dedicated to attracting tech talent and processes visas in a few weeks.
A simple LMIA exception to include NOC Codes 2175, the National Occupation Classification codes that represent Web Developers and designers, would quickly solve this growing issue.
In fact, this already exists for the Video Game and Digital Media industry, so why not just extend it to Web?
There’s no question we’re a Country blessed with vast resources, but the Canadian economy has to be more than extracting. A knowledge economy is about creating, and that takes putting the human into resources. It’s time to be thinking in human terms about what it means make Canada the destination. These are the immigrants who will both create better lives for their families, and help propel Canada’s knowledge economy into a world class, and world bettering position.
At VanHack, we’ve been working closely with exceptionally talented technology professionals. These are men and women eager, able and wanting for the opportunity to be part of Canada’s dynamic and diverse technology ecosystem. We’re excited to share some of their stories. Take the time and get to know them because one day they might just be your colleague, neighbour and friend.
Thank you for your consideration and please support petition if you'd like to see Canada be a leader in the global technology economy for years to come!
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