April 10, 2017 12:28 pm

Mexicans – from farm workers to software developers – increasingly look to Canada for jobs

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto run across the Alexandra Bridge from Ottawa to Gatineau, Quebec on Tuesday, June 28, 2016.

Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

Mexicans are increasingly looking to Canada for work, as U.S. President Donald Trump talks tough on immigration policy, while Prime Minister Justin Trudeau uses exactly the opposite rhetoric.

READ MORE: Trump travel ban prompts high-skilled workers, companies to reconsider Canada

The share of Mexican searches for jobs in Canada was up by nearly 50 per cent in March, compared to the week before the U.S. election in November, according to online jobs site Indeed.com.

Increased interest in Canada by Mexican job seekers is “likely a result of waning interest in the U.S.,” said Indeed economist Daniel Culbertson.

Around 15 per cent of online job searches originating from Mexico are now directed at Canada, up from about 10 per cent shortly before Trump’s election, according to Indeed.

With its open immigration policy, Canada has the potential to benefit from the changing political dynamic in the U.S.,” said Culbertson.

WATCH: ‘I’m not Canada’s Trump’: Kevin O’Leary when asked about immigration

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Mexican job searches include high-skilled and hard-to-fill roles

The types of Canadian jobs Mexicans are looking for include a “healthy mix” of low- and high-skilled jobs, noted Culbertson.

For example, although farm worker ranks No. 2 in job searches, according to Indeed, power engineer tops the chart.

Hard-to-fill roles such as software developer and nurse were also high on the list, the report shows.

READ MORE: Trump, Brexit help Canadian universities recruit both profs and students

The results come as the Liberal government pledges to speed up visa processing times for certain Canadian jobs.

Rapidly expanding Canadian companies and global multinationals looking to relocate to Canada or grow their presence here will be able to count on a two-week turnaround time for work permits needed to hire high-skilled immigrants, the government pledged in its 2017 budget.

South of the border, on the other hand, the U.S. administration has reportedly been mulling restrictions to the country’s H1B visa program for high-skilled immigrants, in an attempt to ensure that employers don’t unfairly favour foreigners over American workers.

WATCH: Trump’s travel ban is good news for Canada’s tech sector

In January, Bloomberg reported the Trump team had drafted an executive order that would introduce profound changes to the H1B visa, on which U.S. industry relies to hire tens of thousands of employees every year.

The number of H1B visas available annually is already so low compared to demand that the U.S. government often resorts to a lottery system to determine which work permit applications to process.

READ MORE: U.S. applications to Canadian universities surge following Donald Trump win

Research suggests foreign tech workers create more jobs than they fill

Economic research suggests that tech workers with H1B visas create more jobs for Americans than they take away.

“The rejection of 178,000 H1B visa applications in computer related fields in the 2007 and 2008 H1B visa lotteries caused U.S metropolitan areas to miss out on creating as many as 231,224 often highly sought after tech jobs for U.S.-born workers in the two years that followed,” reads a 2014 paper by economists at the University of California, Davis and Colgate University.

Meanwhile, U.S. tech giants have been ramping up their presence in Canada over the past decade.

READ MORE: The top eight careers of the future in Canada

Since 2006, Google’s Canadian headcount has grown from around 40 to about 900 employees, a majority of whom are engineers.

Amazon employs over 400 people in Toronto, more than 500 in Vancouver and recently opened a new office in Ottawa. The company said most of its Canadian employees are software developers.

And Microsoft opened another office in Vancouver last year with capacity for 750 employees.

READ MORE: Many recent university grads overqualified for their jobs: study

Mexican travel to Canada is also up

It isn’t just job seekers in Mexico who are increasingly turning to Canada. Visits from the country have also jumped, statistics show.

The number of Mexican tourists travelling to Canada was roughly 28,000 in January 2017, up over 55 per cent from 18,000 during the same month last year, according to Statistics Canada.

The surge follows the Trudeau government’s decision to lift the visa requirement for visitors from Mexico starting on Dec. 1 of last year.

The move didn’t seem to be just about tourism. Eliminating the need for a visa would boost the flow of ideas and business between the two countries, the government said.

READ MORE: Canadian tourism is thriving with a lower loonie. Trade is not

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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