(Toronto) Ottawa wants to attract more tech talent to Canada and is expanding the pathways for tech workers to enter the country.

Immigration Minister Sean Fraser unveiled Canada’s Tech Talent Strategy, which includes a new dedicated pathway for permanent residents targeting employees and workers in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

“There’s no doubt that we’re in a global race for the same talent pool with competitors around the world,” he said Tuesday at the Collision technology conference in Toronto.

“In my opinion, Canada is winning this race, but I think we can win it by an even bigger margin,” he added.

To achieve this, the Minister believes that the government must review the way it prioritizes applications for its start-up visa program, after allocating more places there for 2023.

The new approach also extends the duration of work permits granted to entrepreneurs under the program.

Applicants can apply for a three-year open work permit instead of a one-year permit limited to own start-up business, and the permit will be available to every member of an entrepreneurial team and “not just essential people.” who need to come to Canada urgently,” the government said in a news release.

“For those in the queue, we have good news,” said Minister Fraser. We will also issue open work permits for three years for them and their families to stay in Canada while their applications are completed. »

Further increases in the number of places in the start-up visa program are planned for 2024 and 2025, and the government is prioritizing applications backed by venture capital, angel investor groups and business incubators. companies.

As part of the changes Fraser announced, the government is creating an open work permit stream for H-1B visa holders in the United States to come to work in Canada, and developing an innovation stream under the international mobility program to attract talent.

The government also addressed pandemic processing delays for its Global Skills Strategy, Fraser said, promising to process work permits in just two weeks.

The latest piece of the project is a digital nomads strategy allowing people working for foreign companies to stay in Canada for up to six months – and if they receive a job offer while in Canada, the government will allow them to stay and work here,” said Minister Fraser.

The moves come as a wave of layoffs hit the tech sector after investor exuberance in the sector waned. This happened as consumers returned to their pre-pandemic habits, driving down valuations.

Companies as big as Meta, Amazon, Google and Shopify made cuts, along with Wealthsimple, Clearco, Clutch and Ritual.

Layoff aggregator Layoffs.fyi has counted 210,871 people laid off across the world at 800 tech companies so far this year. He tallied 164,709 cuts compared to 1,058 last year.

When asked why the government is easing immigration pathways when so many workers have lost their jobs, Fraser said it’s because Ottawa is taking a long-term approach.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that having more talented entrepreneurs and tech professionals in this country is going to be a very good thing half a generation from now,” he told a conference at press.

“And on the other hand, if we choose not to seize the opportunity this moment presents, we will miss what could be a generational opportunity to pursue economic growth in a sector of strategic importance to Canada,” he added.

The Minister added that when he speaks to people in the immigration sector, the main challenge they bring up is finding the talent needed to help their business grow.

If Canada paves the way for future workers, Fraser said it can build a workforce with professionals, including those laid off, who can move laterally to fill jobs and encourage others to go to the country.

“We’re actually going to create a talent pool that will set the stage for more companies to come to Canada in the long term,” he said.