Canadian gov’t’s fast-track visa program officially launches today

Canada’s long-awaited fast-track visa officially launched today, with Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Navdeep Bains marking the occasion with a visit to Toronto’s OneEleven for a tech town hall.

“The Global Skills Strategy will allow Canadian employers, who are investing in people and skills here in Canada, to continue to grow by attracting top talent from around the world,” said Bains. “Whether it’s developing a new product line or leading a new sales team, bringing in the best and the brightest from around the world will result in more good-quality, middle-class jobs for Canadians.”

The fast-track visa — officially called the Global Talent Stream of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program — promises a process time of 10 days to two weeks for high-skills talent. It’s been long-awaited by Canada’s startup community since it was announced in November 2016 during the Canadian government’s budget update.

The Global Talent Stream will function as a $7.8 million, 24-month pilot program. “The current outdated system has taken upwards of 12 months to process a work permit for a unique and highly-skilled worker who has the ability to transform a company from a small to medium business to a global giant; this is just too long for a company hungry for talent and detrimental for economic growth in Canada,” said Benjamin Bergen, executive director at the Council of Canadian Innovators.

In an update on the program in March, the government said it was developing a Global Talent List of high-demand occupations eligible for the program in consultation with labour market experts and stakeholders.

The Global Talent Stream is open to foreign workers with executive and managerial experience, and the two-week processing standard also applies to immediate family members accompanying the workers to Canada.

Since its initial announcement in November last year, the government has been soliciting opinions from the Canadian business community on the best way to implement the program; Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour Patty Hajdu convened with Vancouver business leaders at Unbounce’s office just two weeks ago.

“We are excited by the Global Talent Stream which we think is fantastic for Canada’s technology sector. It will ensure companies have the ability to attract, hire, and retain top global technical talent quickly and efficiently,” said Sascha Williams, COO at Unbounce. “As a longtime advocate for driving more growth and competition in Canada’s technology space, Unbounce is thrilled by today’s announcement and grateful to have been part of the dialogue along with several other Canadian technology leaders.”

The Global Talent Stream is part of the government’s Global Skills Strategy, which has an overall mission to help Canadian businesses attract global talent.

That strategy also called for the creation of a Short Duration Work Permit exemption, which will apply to work terms of fewer than 30 days in a year, or brief academic stays.

Researchers coming to Canada will be permitted one 120-day stay every 12 months without requiring a work permit when they are working on a research project at a publicly-funded degree-granting institution or affiliated research institution.

Startups interested in a Global Skills work permit have to apply through a government service channel, and present a Labour Market Benefits Plan. In turn, companies receive a set number of permits and flexible recruitment requirements.

The government also said that it is looking for referral partners across the country with “significant insight and knowledge” to refer appropriate companies to the Global Talent Stream service channel.

Jessica Galang

Jessica Galang

Jessica Galang is BetaKit's News Editor.

  • Christopher Wallace

    “bringing in the best and the brightest from around the world will result in more good-quality, middle-class jobs for Canadians.” ———— BS it will only water down the quality of life for current Canadians.

  • Josh

    Great so now instead of Canadians getting the skills to take over management positions they will just ship in managers. I’m all for immigration but this temporary foreign workers program has got to go or be radically changed. For instance why not encourage employers to train their staff instead of shipping in replacements?

    • Danielle Sim

      I am just wondering if anybody (higher-up) does even looking or considering all these honest and realist comments. I am just an anonymous IT Person, struggling and putting a lot of effort for many years to live and work here in BC. I am not even mentioning, the gender gap in computing is getting worse. Nobody cares or supports us. What a wonderful and easy life ….

  • Concerned Canadian

    I have watched over the last 2 years as my fellow Canadian workers have lost their jobs to temporary foreign IT workers . This has nothing to do with lack of Canadian talent and skill , but simply cost cutting on the part of the big companies. The Indian IT firm doesn’t do any search for local talent but simply brings over yet another Indian resource. With almost 10% unemloyment in Alberta, the are lots of high level technically skilled people to draw from and available for the job market. By continuing to allow this , we are in fact creating a skill shortage in Canada as future graduates have no opportunities and our senior technical resources are being laid off

  • John Miller

    Odd, when I was working in the various film industries in Vancouver it seemed maybe 20% of the artists were Canadian, the rest from other countries. Was it not already easy to bring in non-Canadian employees? I definitely wasn’t running into the many local Vancouver grads from our many local Art Schools. Now that I am in the U.S. again, you can tell that they protect employment more here for Americans. The foreign worker count here in the USA is more tightly controlled than in Canada, protecting jobs for their local citizens. I think this is bad news especially for Vancouver, where real estate is sky high due to over-foreign investment. It is already so difficult for local citizens to be successful at home, this VISA spells more problems for our home grown Canadian artists.

  • Danielle Sim

    I am just wondering if anybody (higher-up) does even looking or considering all these honest and realistic comments. I am just an anonymous IT Person, struggling and putting a lot of effort for many years to live and work here in BC. I am not even mentioning, the gender gap in computing is getting worse. Nobody cares, supports or train us. What a wonderful and easy life ….