One year into the Global Talent Stream. Reflections on the Program including recent modifications.
It is refreshing to see the Government of Canada brag on twitter about the success of the Global Talent Stream (GTS) and the government’s concierge service for bringing temporary foreign workers into Canada. I think I still suffer from Post Jason Kenney Stress Disorder and have to chuckle every time I see IRCC advertise the success of this program. Despite being a little reserved about the benefits of the GTS initially, I now think it offers many benefits to employers across Canada. I hope that it does indeed become a permanent stream within the temporary foreign worker program and that employers make an effort to use the program where applicable.
The most recent news with the program is that the Government amended the Global Talent Stream Category B occupations list on June 12, 2018, to include three new occupations that can be streamlined to approval in 2 weeks. The new occupations are
- Engineering Managers (NOC 0211),
- Architecture & Science Managers (NOC 0212); and
- Mathematicians and Statisticians (except actuaries & related occupations) (NOC 2161).
In addition, the employment experience requirements were reduced from 5 years to 3 years of experience for Digital Media Designers (NOC 5241 subset of Graphic Designers) and to Producers, Technical, Creative and Artistic Director and Project Managers in the video game, video animation and visual effects industries (NOC 5131 subset of Producers, directors, choreographers & related occupations).
Electrical and Electronic Engineeringly Technologists and Technicians (NOC 2141) have been removed from the Category B Occupations List.
The new category B list can be found here: https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/services/foreign-workers/global-talent/requirements.html#h15
Based on the modifications to the Category B Occupations List, the Government appears to be responding to employer and labour market needs in various sectors across Canada. Clearly the video game industry is in need of fresh skills from newly minted professionals.
Another minor change came into effect in May relating to requests for multiple positions in the Category A Stream for unique and specialized positions in the company. On May 4, 2018, ESDC quietly changed the offerings available to employers who have been referred by a Designated Referral Partner. The Department has now “clarified” that Category A referrals by Designated Referral Partners should be limited to two (2) uniquely skilled individuals during the life of this two-year pilot project (ending June 2019). This is considered their “soft cap” and that any additional unique and specialized positions required by the same employer are subject to additional scrutiny and some new requirements. The clarifications on accessing the Category A stream have been clarified on the website at: https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/services/foreign-workers/global-talent/requirements.html
The changes have been explained as follows:
For Category A, an innovative company must be referred by one of the Stream’s Designated Referral Partners on the basis that the position being requested requires unique and specialized talent to help the firm scale-up and grow.
In order to be eligible for Category A, a Designated Referral Partner must validate that a company meets the following eligibility criteria at the time of each referral to ESDC:
- Be an innovative company that is referred by one of the Stream’s Designated Referral Partners on the basis that the position being requested requires unique and specialized talent to help the firm scale-up and grow.
- The Designated Referral Partner must validate that a company meets the following eligibility criteria at the time of each referral to ESDC:
- Is operating in Canada;
- Has a focus on innovation;
- Has a willingness, and is capable of growing or scaling up;
- Is seeking to fill a unique and specialized position in the company; and
- Has identified a qualified foreign worker for potential hire into that unique and specialized position.
- A unique and specialized position is indicated by:
- A highly paid position with an annual salary of at least $80,000, or an annual salary equivalent to the prevailing wage for that occupation if it is higher than $80,000; and
- Advanced knowledge of the industry; and
- Advanced degree in an area of specialization of interest to the employer; and/or
- Minimum of 5 years of experience in the field of specialized experience.
The Government has indicated that they may accept more than two (2) referrals if:
- The company has been successful in meeting its Labour Market Benefits Plan commitments to date under the Global Talent Stream; and
- The Designated Referral Partner has reconfirmed to ESDC that the employer meets the eligibility criteria for Category A and has also provided its assessment of the additional unique and specialized position being requested; and
- For each additional position requested by the innovative company to Category A, the Designated Referral Partner has confirmed to ESDC that the employer meets at least one of the following benchmarks:
- Is “high growth” in terms of revenue, as indicated by:
- Average annualized growth rates in revenue greater than 20% per year, over a three-year period, and with 10 or more employees at the beginning of the period; or
- Is “high growth” in terms of job creation in Canada, as indicated by:
- Average annualized growth rates in job creation in Canada greater than 20% per year over a three-year period, and with 10 or more employees at the beginning of the period; and
- The annual wage for the additional position being requested by the innovative company under a multiple referral to Category A is at or above $150,000. There is no flexibility in the application of the wage requirement for additional positions being requested under Category A. It does not matter if previous Category A positions were at or above $150,000.
- Is “high growth” in terms of revenue, as indicated by:
What is the Government saying about its innovation agenda and supporting Canadian high growth companies, by putting limitations on accessing the Category A stream? Especially when accessing this stream is not easy and there are no clear pathways to directly access the bulk of the Designated Referral Partners on the Category A list. I suspect that there have been and continue to be some big players in Canada that have access to Designated Referral Partners that have been or are willing to support a large number of foreign worker applications on the basis of their having unique and specialized positions. I think the Department may have encountered Designated Referral Partner(s) that were essentially rubber stamping large numbers of referral forms to ESDC under the Global Talent Stream – Category A for certain employers.
The Government has confirmed that over 90% of Global Talent Stream applications have been through the Category B stream. Initially the Category B list of occupations consisted of 11 specific occupations which has now increased to 13 occupations. Clearly an occupations list is where the government sees that it can get the most uptake by employers.
Using an occupations list model is not new in the sphere of bringing skilled talent to Canada. However, what is most refreshing about the GTS is the level of service and sophistication on the part of the government officers that have been assigned to process these applications. They are helpful, engaged and truly want the applications to succeed. They take the 2-week service standard seriously and, in most cases, adhere to it. There is none of the stretching of the definition of processing times as is done with the regular temporary foreign worker program, where 10-day processing can mean anything from 30 business days to 3 months.
The GTS has the potential to help Canadian companies scale up fast and actually meet the needs of business across Canada in variety of sectors. It is for this reason that I give it the thumbs up and congratulate ESDC and IRCC for a job well done.