British Columbia’s tech sector is producing more jobs than people to fill them. Over 14,000 new ICT jobs are expected to be created in the province between 2015-2019, according to a report from the Information and Communications Technology Council, yet under a baseline scenario, it’s forecasted that “the availability of homegrown ICT talent will not be sufficient to meet these hiring requirements.” To fill the talent gap, BC SMEs must look overseas.
Experts from BC and across Canada say the soon-to-be ratified Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) can provide some relief by easing restrictions on bringing labour across borders from the European Union’s 28 member countries.
Bruce Harwood, an immigration lawyer with Vancouver-based Boughton Law, says that CETA has the potential to provide significant benefits to Canadian SMEs who need specialized talent to grow their businesses, but were hitherto constrained by Service Canada’s Labour Market Impact Assessment process. The process “is cumbersome because their [Service Canada’s] job is to protect the labour market for Canadians and permanent residents,” Harwood says. But because of CETA, certain sectors will no longer have to deal with “what would have blocked or frustrated employers in the past.”
On day one of when CETA comes into effect, the EU will eliminate 97.7 percent of tariffs on Canadian goods.
For a business owner, an affirmative LMIA indicates that there’s a need for a foreign worker to fill a job that no Canadian worker can do. CETA will allow firms to bypass this process altogether and leverage a simple work permit, according to business lawyer Didier Culat of BCF Business Law in Quebec. “It’s do you have A, B, C, and D. Check. You’ve taken away the discretion of federal bureaucrats in your recruitment process.”
“This is a big deal,” says Harwood.
CETA brings not only new talent options to Canadian companies, but also new market opportunities. On day one of when CETA comes into effect, the EU will eliminate 97.7 percent of tariffs on Canadian goods and almost all tariffs on British Columbian exports. The most significant long-term benefit will be an online centralized bulletin where EU governments of all levels will post potentially lucrative tendering opportunities, according to Culat. “They will have the database and there’s the expansion of the types of entities, like local government, that are subject to these requirements.”
Canadian companies may face more company from EU firms too, but Culat explains that “our market is small, and it’s over a huge territory. They’re going to come in here, and they’re going to bid. But we’ll have more opportunities than they will.”