Making Our Voices Heard On Foreign Workers

Karna Gupta, President & CEO, ITAC

Karna Gupta, President & CEO, ITAC

By Karna Gupta, President and CEO, ITAC

In the months since Prime Minister Stephen Harper shuffled his Cabinet in July, ITAC has maintained an active schedule of meetings with ministers and senior staff members in portfolios that have some connection to the ICT sector.

Our goal, as always, is to ensure that those around the Cabinet table understand the vital role that ICT plays in Canada’s economy—our significant contribution to the country’s gross domestic product, and our direct and indirect employment of some one million people—and our support for policies that are critical to helping the sector continue to create innovative products and services that meet market demand, both at home and abroad. ICT represents Canada’s largest private-sector R&D investor; five times larger than second-place pharma.

As demonstrated by the diverse recipients of this year’s Ingenious Awards, technology can fuel innovation in a wide range of areas. It touches Canadians in every aspect of their daily lives—from better, more informed service from public- and private-sector organizations to advanced health services.

Most recently, we had a very productive meeting with Hon. Jason Kenney, Minister of Employment and Social Development, and at his invitation provided the ICT industry’s perspective on the ideal mechanism for ensuring ready access to the global ICT labour market.

We reiterated the importance of global workers play in filling critical gaps the domestic market cannot fill, making a strong case for the return of the Accelerated Labour Market Opinion process that was suspended last spring. Minister Kenney has previously indicated that the Government is planning to reintroduce the ALMO process with a focus on high-paying, highly skilled jobs, and we expressed our opinion that this could not happen soon enough.

We also voiced our support for a return to a facilitated process for specific sectors to meet demands in the medium term, and made a strong case for the long-term adoption of a Trusted Employer Approach to global worker recruitment or transfer. We suggested that the Government broaden and accelerate the discussions it has held with the business community, and recommended the proposal developed by the Canadian Employee Relocation Council as a good foundation on which to build.

During the past year, ITAC has witnessed some encouraging movement toward a more effective set of policies for addressing the challenges the ICT sector faces in filling important knowledge worker roles. We thank the Government for its continued interest in this topic, and we look forward to continuing to provide input to help its ministers build a strong talent strategy for Canada in the year ahead.

On that note, on behalf of everyone at ITAC, I wish you a peaceful and happy holiday season, and all the best for an innovative and productive 2014.