The Liberals are proposing an immigration plan they say will help Canadian businesses attract international talent.
The program, outlined in Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s fall economic update, sets a two-week standard to process visas and work permits for international workers hoping to coming to Canada.
“Our Global Skills Strategy will further support Canadian companies by making sure they can attract top talent and can have timely access to the specific skills and international expertise that will allow them to scale up, create good Canadian jobs and thrive right here at home,” Morneau said during a speech to the House of Commons on Tuesday.
The Liberals are looking specifically at “high-growth” companies – those needing to bring in skilled workers in order to help speed up investments that help create jobs – and international companies that are either making “large” investments in or moving to Canada and creating Canadian jobs.
Domestic companies, Morneau said, have repeatedly told finance officials the biggest hurdle they face is hiring talent.
“This is a way for us to advance our economic output,” the finance minister said while speaking to reporters on Tuesday. “We will create more, better jobs.”
The economic update, tabled on Tuesday afternoon, also reveals a plan for a new work-permit exemption for those whose work will last fewer than 30 days in a given year. This type of exemption, the government says, will help speed up processing for inter-company work exchanges and study exchanges, for example.
The Liberals earmarked $271.3 million to expand what they’re calling the “talent-friendly” immigration system, according to the document.
Last month, Morneau’s economic advisory group suggested, among other things, the government take measures to spur a dramatic spike in skilled immigrants.
Meanwhile on Monday, Immigration Minister John McCallum announced the government’s base immigration level for 2017, noting there would be an increase in the number of applicants accepted in certain economic classes. That increase, the minister said, will come at the cost of accepting refugees.
This new annual target of 300,000 marks an increase of 40,000 over the target in place between 2011 and 2015. The Liberals in 2016 bumped the target up to 300,000 to accommodate the influx of Syrian refugees.
Next year’s target for welcoming newcomers through the economic class is 172,500, a seven per cent increase from the target of 160,600 this year; the 2016 target for refugees was 55,800, which will decrease to 40,000 in 2017.