May 24, 2018
The Global Talent Stream is the central pillar of the Government of Canada’s recently launched Global Skills Strategy: an immigration program designed to help high-growth, innovative businesses bring unique and specialized global talent to Canada in a timely manner. And while it’s only nine months old, the Global Talent Stream appears to have legs as an effective program that will help many Canadian companies attract and retain global talent. Here’s a preview of the Global Talent Stream program and five practical learnings (so far) about how the federal government is implementing it.
The Global Talent Stream Program
The Global Talent Stream offers Canadian employers yet another immigration path to recruit foreign nationals, joining the growing cast of immigration programs that includes (among others) Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP), the Atlantic Immigration Pilot, the Canadian Experience Class, the Federal Skilled Worker and Trades Programs, the Temporary Foreign Worker (TFWP) and International Mobility Programs and treaty-related routes (like NAFTA). Canadian companies can take advantage of the Global Talent Stream by submitting an application via one of the program’s two categories. Applications will receive a prioritized standard of service from Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) and benefit from an expedited 10-business day processing time.
Category A. Category A applicants must be referred to ESDC by a “designated referral partner” and must demonstrate to ESDC that unique and specialized foreign talent is required for their business to scale-up and grow.
Category B. Category B of the Global Talent Stream is intended to assist Canadian companies fill in-demand, highly skilled positions on ESDC’s Global Talent Occupations List, which have been determined to be in-demand and for which there is insufficient domestic labour. As of March 28, 2018 the list contains the following occupations (by National Occupation Classification or “NOC”):
Labour Market Benefits Plan. Applicants under both Category A and Category B must work with ESDC to develop a Labour Market Benefits Plan. These plans must contain firm commitments by companies to take measures that will benefit the Canadian labour market. Companies must make both mandatory and complementary commitments.
Compliance Reviews. After ESDC has approved the Labour Market Benefit Plan, it can conduct compliance reviews every six months to ensure the applicant is meeting its Labour Market Benefits Plan commitments.
Wages. In addition to commitments they make in the plans, companies must pay wages to the foreign workers that are similar to wages paid to Canadians and permanent residents who share the same job, skills, work location and experience.
5 Key Learnings
Here are five practical key learnings about how the federal government is implementing the Global Talent Stream based on our experience working with the program.
By requiring Category A applicants be referred by a designated referral partner, the federal government is effectively relying on them – and giving them the discretion – to pick the right type of companies to participate in the Global Talent Stream program. However, ESDC has given each designated referral partner written guidance on the type of companies to refer to the program, and instructed them to consider such criteria as the company’s income, growth over the past several years, and whether they are in high-growth sectors or doing innovative work.
The practical result of the referral requirement, combined with ESDC’s expectation that the designated referral partners have direct knowledge of the referred companies and their businesses, is that an applicant must have an established relationship with a designated referral partner before seeking referral to the program. This is fantastic for companies already interacting with the designated referral partners: they are already insiders. But it also means that Category A is effectively a closed program, open only to companies with an already-existing relationship with a designated referral partner. The moral: get to know your local designated referral partner before – not after – you apply for the program.
For a standard Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) outside of the Global Talent Stream, one ESDC officer is normally assigned to the file. But inside the Global Talent Stream, and specifically Category A applications, it appears there are two officers assigned and two distinct assessment phases. The first officer’s role seems to be to confirm the completeness of the application, while the second officer undertakes a comprehensive review of the application to determine if it meets program requirements and engages directly with the applicant on the Labour Market Benefits Plan. The applicant’s lead should be well-briefed on the LMIA application and the proposed Labour Market Benefits Plan and prepared to spend several hours working with ESDC to finalize the plan. Our experience is the ESDC officer assessing the application will take an hour or more to review the Labour Market Benefits Plan with the applicant, and many of the questions are very in-depth and involve specific human resources practices and the commitments the company will be making to support the plan.
The Global Talent Stream documentation doesn’t expressly specify the recruitment requirements that applicants must have made before eligibility as either Category A or B applicants. But despite this we think ESDC still expects applicants to have made reasonable efforts to locate a suitable Canadian before applying and to have documented these efforts – and might refuse an application if it hasn’t. The program guidelines state, “While there is no minimum recruitment requirement for the Global Talent Stream, you are encouraged to recruit Canadians and permanent residents before offering a job to a temporary foreign worker. You will be asked, as part of your application to describe any recruitment efforts conducted.”
The successful applicant’s human resources manager or program lead should closely track progress on the Labour Market Benefits Plan and be prepared to provide regular updates. The Global Talent Stream contemplates that Category A companies will have regular six-month follow-up calls with ESDC to review and track progress on the Labour Market Benefits Plan. This means not only that employers must pay close attention to their Labour Market Benefits Plan and document efforts to achieve it, but also that they are truly entering into a long term partnership with ESDC. Unlike a typical LMIA application where for many applicants contact with ESDC ends with approval (unless they are selected for review/audit), participants in the Global Talent Stream Category A will have regular contact with ESDC for several years.
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