GSS report card: A solid B, with some areas needing improvement

  • October 25, 2017

Canada’s new Global Skills Strategy has been receiving a lot of positive feedback from CBA immigration experts, but in the four months since its launch a number of issues have emerged that require action by the government.

The Immigration Law Section welcomes the goals and objectives of the GSS, which aims to give employers a faster and more predictable process for attracting skilled workers to Canada. So far the overall feedback on the strategy from Section members has been positive, with a few exceptions causing some concern, the section said in a letter to Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen.

The Section makes five recommendations on topics such as processing times, work permit exemptions and tracking mechanisms, and having better-trained Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) officers available at ports of entry – in some instances, the Section says, officers at ports of entry have been altogether unaware of the GSS, let alone trained on how to process someone entering the country through it.

While the GSS’s promised 10-day processing times are generally being met, the Section says that processing times in other business lines have nearly tripled since the strategy was launched, which if related to the strategy could diminish its value.

There have also been reports of processing errors and refusals.

“Our members have also reported that applications for C-10 significant benefit work permits were being routinely refused by decision-makers at CPC Vegreville. This suggests that the decision-makers had not considered the detailed information submitted, and were not sufficiently trained on these types of cases.”

When there is a problem, there is often nowhere to take it – online forms have no category for GSS inquiries, and the standard response time of 30 days would have a serious impact on the GSS’s 10-day objectives in any case. Applicants don’t know where their applications will be adjudicated, so there’s no point in sending an inquiry to a specific office. The Section recommends a “fast-escalation mechanism” be created to deal with GSS issues.

Foreign nationals in Canada under a GSS work permit exemption only get a visitor record authorizing work without a work permit if they are referred to a CBSA officer for a secondary referral, and they can’t get a Social Insurance Number without the work permit or visitor record, the Section notes. That creates problems for those who have reporting obligations to other regulatory agencies and for their employers, and also means they risk for not having the necessary documentation to obtain a work permit on a subsequent entry. The Section recommends foreign nationals be required to have an offer of employment from a Canadian business that has paid and filed a compliance fee in advance.

“There is also a significant risk of the integrity of the GSS program being compromised if foreign nationals or businesses take advantage of the lack of monitoring and tracking surrounding the strategy,” the Section says. “A tracking mechanism should be put in place to ensure there is a clear record of whether a foreign national has been admitted under the GSS exemption in the past.”