Could Toronto become the largest tech talent hub in North America?
Canadian immigration policies are driving U.S. companies to expand their operations in Toronto
Look at the careers webpage of almost any U.S. tech giant and you will find openings in Toronto.
The Amazon careers page has posted approximately 20 job openings for their Toronto location in the last 14 days alone. Microsoft is opening up a new headquarters in September 2020, expecting to add an additional 500 full-time jobs and 500 internship/co-ops by 2022.
Toronto has also seen the most “brain gain” over the past five years, according to the CBRE’s 2019 Scoring Tech Talent report. Between 2013 and 2018, there were 80,100 tech jobs created in Toronto, as well as 22,466 tech degrees issued— which means there were 57,634 more tech jobs than tech grads.
“Toronto and the San Francisco Bay Area stand out as strong tech talent job creators each adding at least 54,000 more tech talent jobs than graduates,” the CBRE report says. “On the other end of the spectrum, Washington D.C., Boston, and Los Angeles post the deepest deficits in employing their tech graduates locally.”
American companies prefer Canada’s immigration policies over U.S.
Nearly two thirds (65 percent) of U.S. companies that participated in a recent survey said they prefer Canadian immigration policies over those in the U.S., and more than half have either considered expanding north or already have.
Over 300 U.S. companies participated in Envoy Global’s 2019 Immigration Trends Report. Most companies (63 percent) said they were increasing their presence in Canada, whereas 37 percent said they were not.
The majority of those U.S. companies hiring in Canada (35 percent) said they were both transferring their current employees north of the border, and hiring international talent for their Canadian branches.
More were only hiring foreign nationals (15 percent) than were only sending current employees (13 percent).
A more streamlined work permit process
The Global Talent Stream (GTS) is a pathway for employers to bring their new hires to Canada fast.
Canada established the GTS program in 2017 with the goal of processing Labour Market Impact Assessments (LMIAs) for highly-skilled temporary foreign workers within two weeks.
There are two sub-streams within the GTS:
- Category A refers to people who received a nomination from employers on a designated list. MaRS Discovery District, a non-profit in Toronto that commercializes publicly-funded medical and technological research, is an example of an entity under this category.
- Category B is for people who have skills in specific occupations that have been determined to be in-demand in Canada. Many of the jobs listed fall into the technology sector such as computer engineers, web designers, and database analysts.
Over the past two years, more than 24,000 highly skilled people have come to Canada under this stream.
Expedited process for companies sending talent to Canada
While the GTS requires an LMIA, there are other work permit programs that allow companies to skip this step, helping businesses to relocate their employees in a faster and more straightforward manner.
International companies who wish to send employees to their Canadian locations can opt for an Intra-Company Transfer Work Permit (ICT). This program is for temporary foreign workers whose presence in Canada will amount to “significant benefit” for the country’s economy. Workers must have at least one year of full-time work experience with foreign enterprise and be coming to Canada to perform comparable work.
Technology firms may also use the NAFTA Professionals Work Permit category if the employee’s job falls into one of the listed occupations. Individuals who are computer systems analysts or graphic designers may qualify under this category.
American and Mexican citizens do not require a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) to enter Canada, so NAFTA applications may be done either online or by paper at a Port of Entry (such as a border crossing or airport), or at a Visa office.
Workers and employers who use the ICT and NAFTA programs must comply with all provisions governing temporary work in Canada.
Ontario opening doors to skilled foreign workers
Skilled foreign workers looking to settle in Toronto can apply through one of the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program’s (OINP) categories.
The Human Capital Priority Stream is a sub-category managed by the OINP that leverages the Express Entry system to invite candidates for Canadian permanent residence through periodic draws from the Express Entry pool.
The OINP has held two draws in the month of August, targeting candidates that had work experience in certain in-demand occupations.
On August 1, the OINP issued 1773 invitations as a part of its new OINP Tech Draws. These draws target individuals with experience in the technology sector. Invited candidates were required to have a Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) scores between 435 and 458. Software engineers and web designers were among the list of occupations eligible for the tech draw.
The second draw, which took place on August 15 draw, issued 997 invitations to apply for a provincial nomination. These individuals had CRS scores between 439 and 465 and had work experience targeted occupations such as registered nurses; financial managers; corporate sales managers, and others.
Candidates did not require a job offer in order to be chosen, however, they were required to have an Express Entry profile.