Film, fisheries & Francophones: easing access to Canada

For the past 2 months, I have been on a bit of a blog hiatus – busy with things like getting the Halifax Refugee SSP up and running and a little vacation to Guadeloupe. The nice thing is, there’s lots to write about, and it’s mostly positive.

In 2016, the feds have made some major changes in who can get a work permit, when, and for how long.

In January, the film industry was granted a “significant benefit exemption” from LMIAs, meaning it is now easier foreign directors and producers to work in Canada. Sadly, this month is the one-year anniversary of the beginning of the end of the NS Film Tax credit which has gutted the industry in NS at a time when it could have been thriving with the favourable exchange rate, deep pool of talent and solid infrastructure. So the NS film industry likely won’t benefit from this exemption, at least in the short term.

In February, restrictions on the hiring of seasonal workers was lifted to enable more fish processing (and other seasonal) workers to come here for longer periods. This is great for employers who experience a chronic shortage of workers in the Maritimes. Unfortunately, seasonal workers are still completely shut out of permanent residence programs which is wrong on all levels.

Yesterday, the feds also made this curious announcement: “Starting June 1, 2016, the Mobilité Francophone stream will exempt employers from the Labour Market Impact Assessment process when they hire francophone workers in managerial, professional and technical/skilled trades occupations from abroad to work in francophone minority communities outside of Quebec.”

This could be really great news for parts of the Maritimes and also really great news for people from French-speaking African countries who are looking for opportunities in Canada but are largely shut out because of the impossibilities employers encounter in trying to hire foreign workers from visa-required countries. But the details aren’t clear, so for now, we wait and hope it will be a boon for NS and NB.

The feds are moving quickly on immigration. I hope the Nova Scotia Office of Immigration keeps up the momentum by enabling people who are here working in those programs access to the NS permanent residence streams. It is no-brainer that anyone with a full-time employment who is working and established here should be able to qualify for permanent residence. Unfortunately, there are so many barriers that the people who are most committed to smaller provinces are often shut out of the very provincial programs which should be enabling them to remain here long term. <sigh>

But I said positive news, so I’ll save the griping for next week.