Companies Express Concerns over End of IT Exemption

In today’s Vancouver Sun, Joanne Lee-Young has an article about concerns regarding the termination of the IT exemption for an LMO requirement.

Vancouver’s efforts to promote itself as a digital hub have culminated with the arrival of Pixar and Digital Domain.  Both will be renting studios and hiring young, smart, local Vancouverites, as demonstrated in this video (Vancouverites will be especially entertained by 00:50-1:30 of the video):

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson has stated:

I’m very concerned these changes will hinder the growth of our emerging tech cluster in Vancouver. Vancouver’s thriving digital media, gaming and visual effects companies need to attract and retain global talent to remain competitive.

The proposed changes will have negative consequences for our local economy if it prevents companies from completing projects or forces them to locate their operations elsewhere.”

Laurie Murdoch, a spokesperson for Digital Domain, said:

We are always in a hurry because by the time we’ve identified a hole for somebody, we have got a very short period of time.

To be clear, we do use the LMO route, but it’s definitely the longer route.

The idea is once we have a strong leader, then the rest of the team will be populated by local talent.

Wendy Boylan, a spokeswoman for Ubisoft, meanwhile, has noted:

Our timelines for production are so much faster than in other industries.

We look locally first, but sometimes we need someone more niche, more veteran or with a certain kind of expertise. In a project, if we even have to wait a month, it can severely affect the time-line and cost.

Sylvain Provencher, executive director of ACM SIGGRAPH, a Vancouver-based society for computer graphics professionals, stated:
Most companies don’t know if their applications will be refused or not, and if so why. It seems very vague. The frustration is that you can go through the whole process, very carefully following the steps, and not get it.
It seems a very moody system.
Craig Natsuhara, a partner at Spectrum HR Law, opined:

There are a lot of new staff at Service Canada. Many veterans have left, taking with them their knowledge and insight to assess industries and their needs in a more global context.

The approach has become much more mechanical and based on checklists. ‘This ad was up for 13 days, not 14 days. Reject!’

But they might be for really key team leader positions. If they aren’t filled, projects just can’t go ahead. Most companies are eyeing star performers they have banked on before.

However, not everyone shares the same negative opinion. Anna Kroupoderova, a spokesperson from Ottawa’s Human Resources and Skills Development department, states that:

Canadians deserve to have reasonable access to jobs in every sector of the economy. The cancellation of this [program] will ensure that this access becomes available,”

It’s an example of the classic battle between protectionism and free markets.  Clearly both sides of the debate think that they are on the right in terms of making Vancouver a creative, digital, hub. In ending the IT exemption, Citizenship and Immigration Canada has apparently decided that it will follow the path of protectionism in order to do this. For Vancouver’s sake, hopefully they have chosen right.


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