Thanks for nothing CETA! You have let Canadians down on the immigration front.

CETA immigration definitely disappoints. All Points Relocation Services has made it clear that one of the most mishandled and least discussed files of the Harper government was immigration. Reacting to political pressure, the government of the day made life a lot more difficult for Canadian corporations to attract talent from other countries to perform important tasks with benefit to the Canadian economy.  The minute that the Labour Market Opinion process became the Labour Market Impact Assessment process, the numbers of qualified, highly skilled talented recruits reduced to a trickle as companies slowed down or entirely abandoned efforts to go through the new LMIA hoops. The new LMIA had introduced extremely onerous processes to the hiring of foreign talent.  The changes are beyond the scope of this article and All Points has written about this before; however, there remained one bright spot for employers: NAFTA.  NAFTA afforded the opportunity to bring in new recruits in an LMIA-exempt fashion.

A NAFTA Professional must be qualified to work in one of approximately 60 targeted professions. Depending on his or her profession, an applicant may be required to provide educational credentials and/or proof of work experience in the field.  NAFTA Professionals must have pre-arranged employment in Canada in an occupation that matches their qualifications.  But, in short NAFTA provided employers with possible routes around LMIA to hire fresh new recruits from the United States or Mexico into Canada.

Yay for NAFTA, now what about CETA?

The Canada-European Union (EU) Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) was implemented, provisionally, just about a month ago. There was hope that CETA would afford immigration opportunities quite like NAFTA: LMIA-exempt options for professionals being hired into Canada. If this is what one was waiting for, CETA immigration is beyond a disappointment. From an immigration standpoint, this offered only a couple of modest additional strategies, to bring citizens of EU countries for employment into Canada.  In the one month since CETA was implemented, All Points Relocation Services Canada has had only 2 cases where our client base has benefited from this.

There does exist a very specific scenario, that may help some –  recent graduate hires, who would have to have previously interned with the company during their studies, for one full year preceding their assignment, may be eligible to come to work in Canada for a 12 month period, as a Graduate Trainee.  However, as this work permit status cannot be renewed beyond its 12 month maximum duration, it serves to support short-term requirements, where training is partly a component of the assignment.

As far as the Global Skills Strategy, some employers had thought that this may replace the need to undertake the LMIA process, but it does not.  One of the components of this is that it does improve the processing times for consular work permit applications, but this only helps with a very small group.  Another component of this is that certain foreign nationals may be able to work in Canada for brief periods of time, without applying for a work permit – the work permit exemption component allows qualifying applicants to undertake short term work assignments for periods of 15 days (once every 6 months) or 30 days (once every 12 months).

All Points Relocation Services Canada calls CETA immigration a Missed Opportunity

While much of the framework for CETA immigration was put in place by the Harper government, the Trudeau government does not get off easily. They have had many focus groups, including the CERC, speak to the immigration roadblocks that have been set up for Canadian corporations. And except for a small preferential fast-tracking of the LMIA process, very little has been done to help Canadian companies attract talent more readily. And CETA immigration was an opportunity to do exactly this. The Trudeau government gave all sorts of indications that it would listen to business and while CETA may have already been baked in the cake by the time they got in the kitchen, it still remains a huge disappointment on the immigration portfolio in general.

All Points Relocation Services Canada feels that CETA was the perfect opportunity to put Canada at an immigration advantage compared to many peers. Instead, it appears that improving immigration policy for Canadian corporations has become the unspoken third rail of politics.  A visionary immigration policy would recognize that Canada could use it as an opening for talent and as a strategic advantage over countries like the United States. It looks like we will have to suffice with lack of vision from our politicians.

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