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February 10, 2014

Budget introduces new tool to meet Canadian labour needs - the Expression of Interest system

DCN staff writer

OTTAWA

Key to enhancing Canada's immigration system, to make it flexible and focused on meeting labour market needs, will be the introduction of an Expression of Interest (EOI) system, according to the federal government's Economic Action Plan 2014.

The government stated it will provide $14 million over two years and $4.7 million per year afterwards on an ongoing basis to launch the EOI as a new recruitment model in January 2015.

“Our guys think this is great news,” said Canadian Construction Association president Michael Atkinson.

“Essentially, this system allows potential, interested foreign trained individuals to register themselves on this online system and then, depending upon the demand for their occupation, or whether they have a current job offer, they go up the queue. It’s not first come first served, like the old system.”

The government would only invite the most highly ranked candidates to submit an application for permanent residence.

The EOI system would allow government and employers to actively target highly skilled immigrants under key economic immigration programs, including the Federal Skilled Worker Program, the Federal Skilled Trades Program and the Canadian Experience Class.

Countries such as Australia and New Zealand already have EOI systems in place. The Australian model ranks applicants higher if they are willing to work in remote areas.

“To some extent, Australia allows the employers or employers groups to mine this database so if you’re looking for a foreign trained pipefitter that might have a certain amount of experience, and has a certain language proficiency—you can go on (and search),” explained Atkinson.

“This as a great resource for finding eligible people.”

Atkinson added that the difficult part of implementing this online tool will be putting the infrastructure in place for it.

The budget also proposes to invest $11 million over two years and $3.5 million annually ongoing to further strengthen the Labour Market Opinion process and ensure that Canadians are given the first chance at available jobs.

It commits to realigning the application streams to better identify vulnerable temporary workers and improve processing times for certain applications; limiting the use of the program in high-unemployment regions; and ensuring that employers transition to a Canadian workforce through better prevention, detection and response to employer non-compliance.

Atkinson was pleased to see that the budget’s announcements were aimed toward making the LMO process faster and more responsive.

“The investments do speak about trying to make the LMO process timelier, more expeditious; we certainly would applaud those measures. We certainly would agree that our first preference is to hire Canadians, but unfortunately we can’t grow an experienced electrician overnight and our projects are often in remote areas,” he said.

In addition, the government said it will introduce reforms to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program for workers who are exempt from the LMO process to ensure the program continues to promote Canada’s economic and labour market interest.

In the 2013 budget, the government introduced a moratorium on accelerated LMOs and imposed a user fee of $275 per person to recover the cost of processing a temporary foreign worker application under the LMO process.

Atkinson hopes to see the return of the accelerated LMO.

“The accelerated labour market opinion program was a program that provided us with a timely response, to meet those short term needs in a timely manner. While it has been suspended temporarily, we’re hoping to see a return to a process similar to that, perhaps more based on regional need, or specific to regional demand. It’s certainly something that we continue to need.”

The government proposed to invest $11.8 million over two years and $3.3 million per year ongoing to launch an enhanced Job Matching Service to ensure Canadians are given the first chance at available jobs matching their skills in their local area.

Through a secure, authenticated process, registered job seekers and employers will be automatically matched on the basis of skills, knowledge and experience.

It would build on the launch of a modernized and easy to use consolidated National Job Bank, with would provide job seekers and employers timely access to job postings and consolidated labour market information.

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