Minister AlexanderSurrey: Surrey Board of Trade had a roundtable with Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander on September 5 at the Surrey Public Library. Given Surrey’s large multicultural community and its direct line to Surrey’s economy, the Surrey Board of Trade focused on Canada’s immigration system as it evolves starting January 2015. The federal government will introduce a new application management system for selecting and processing economic immigrants: The Expression of Interest (EOI) system.

The Surrey Board of Trade’s CEO, Anita Huberman, said, “this system represents a huge opportunity for B.C. and its employers but only if designed properly. In order to be successful the system must meet two key criteria: it must reflect the needs of employers, large and small, an accommodate BC’s complex labour market realities.”

The following points were highlighted to Minister Alexander during roundtable meeting:

1.     Benchmark processing times (from selection to arrival) against comparable systems; be the fastest immigration system in the world.

2.     Accelerate Labour Market Opinions for ‘trusted employers’ and specific occupations where skill shortages exist.

3.     Let employers access the pool of candidates directly.

4.     Enable immigration consultants to help employers navigate and use the EOI system.

5.     Treat employers and prospective immigrants as customers.

6.     Strike a balance between integrity and usability.

7.     Provide a clear pathway for newcomers seeking the recognition of their foreign credentials; newcomers should be connected to professional regulatory bodies prior to arriving in Canada.

8.     Enable employers to use the tools they normally employ when selecting and screening candidates.

9.     Allow employers to provide pre-selected candidates a pathway to permanent residence, with the ability to track them through the system and prevent ‘poaching’.

10.  Allow immigrants to self-select where they want to live and for whom they want to work; to the extent that they exist, assign provincial immigrant quotas based on labour market needs.

11.  Market the EOI system internationally to prospective immigrants and domestically to employers – a ‘if you build it, they will come’ strategy will not work.

12.  Publish the aggregate data from employers’ searches and the skills profiles of newcomers entering Canada through the EOI system.

13.  Enable the EOI system to accommodate employers with lower and semi-skilled labour needs.

The Surrey Board of Trade’s workplace development strategy and the respective advocacy teams that support this will coordinate activity to complement and monitor the implementation of the new EOI system.