Ottawa announces plans to fast-track visas and work permits for skilled foreign workers

Ottawa announces plans to fast-track visas and work permits for skilled foreign workers

Wed., Nov 30, 2016 | By Roger Belgrave


The federal government used a fast-growing Mississauga biopharmaceutical company as the backdrop to announce plans to accelerate the visa and work permit process for highly-skilled sought after foreign workers and companies willing to make major job-creating investments in Canada.

Immigration Minister John McCallum and Innovation, Science and Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains were at the Meadowpine Boulevard facility of Therapure Biopharma Inc. Wednesday to unveil a government strategy to help Canadian companies recruit global talent and drive economic growth.

McCallum repeated his recent statements that the country is working to fast-track visas and permits for certain foreign workers, make it easier for high-skilled professionals to enter the country for short-term employment and aid companies looking to bring in talent from abroad, if those businesses commit to significant job creation in Canada.

Despite the existing talent in Canada, explained McCallum, there is a need for high skilled workers from outside our borders to drive growth and investment.

To make recruitment of that foreign talent easier, the government will commit more resources to accelerating the visa and work permit approval process for specific professionals.

“For certain high-tech skilled global talent we will reduce the processing time to two weeks,” McCallum announced.

Canada must also facilitate the admission of certain key foreign workers to attract multinationals and foreign investment, he added.

For example, McCallum noted, the Liberals recently accelerated the immigration process for about dozen employees, including the CEO, for Thomson Reuters.

In exchange, he said, the company committed to create “a large number of jobs” in Canada.

“We are creating a new office to facilitate the recruitment of foreign talent for those who would make major investments in this country to create more jobs,” McCallum said.

Additionally, the immigration minister revealed, his ministry would make it easier for companies to bring in skilled foreign expertise for short-term work.

Bains and McCallum both emphasized that the employment of high-skilled foreign workers creates Canadian jobs.

This critical mass of talent enables the start-up of new companies and expansion of established firms, said Bains.

Key talent will help high growth Canadian companies, like Therapure, develop more quickly and strengthen global competitiveness, he added.

Therapure Biopharma started with 13 employees in 2008 and has grown to a workforce of more than 370, with ongoing expansion plans.

“It is extremely difficult to find the right talent all the time in Canada and the announcement today is very opportune and very close to our heart,” said Therapure Biopharma Inc. President and chief executive officer Nicholas Green, who is a United Kingdom import. “We need to actually bring some people in from abroad to help us get to where we want go and continue to grow.”

As technology becomes more widely available, the only competitive edge for countries and businesses will be the distinctive talent and creativity of their workforces, Bains insisted.

This strategy will put technology firms on a better footing to access global talent, said Ben Bergen, Council of Canadian Innovators’ executive director.

It is hoped announced changes are in place by mid-2017, McCallum said.