Ottawa is announcing today that such skilled professionals as engineers, accountants or professors from the U.S. or Mexico will be able to get three-year long work permits instead of one-year permits.
"We are trying to get all the skilled people we can to Canada quickly," Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said in a telephone interview from Vancouver. "The last thing we want is to strangle a Canadian company that's ready to grow because of a shortage of labour."
Canada grants about 5,150 such permits every year. Most, about 5,000, are for Americans coming to work in Canada and the rest are for Mexicans coming to work here.
"I talk to employers all the time who do not get even one job application when they put a help wanted ad in the newspaper," Kenney said. "Even though we are going into a period of economic difficulty, we continue to have a number of skilled labour shortages in certain areas of the economy."
Kenney said granting work permits in three-year increments will help Canadian companies because employers will be able to count on a skilled import to complete a project. The government says this makes Canadian companies more competitive and can help lower costs.
"This is about less paperwork, less red tape and less waiting time," Kenney said.
The Canadian rule change follows a similar one made in October by U.S. authorities that allow Canadian engineers, computer scientists and other professionals to obtain three-year work permits in the U.S. Mexico is also considering such a change.