VanHack talks to the Canadian Minister of Immigration

On Thursday, November 5th, I had the great privilege of presenting my thoughts and feedback to Honourable Minister Marco Mendicino, the Canadian Minister of Immigration about how to bring more tech talent to Canada. 

The event was put together by the Canadian Council of Innovators, a fantastic organization that represents Canada’s tech ecosystem to the Government. They were instrumental in creating the Global Talent Stream visa and have been a great partner in helping bring our feedback to Ottawa. 

In fact, in the early days of VanHack, we started a petition urging one of the previous Ministers of Immigration to bring more software professionals to Canada and create a fast track visa for tech talent. I remember wondering if they’d pay attention to our small startup and thinking that our actions weren’t going to make much of a difference. And now here I was, asked to give our feedback directly to them. 

I remember waking up that morning feeling extremely excited and nervous. It’s been 5 years since I’ve been working in Canada’s tech immigration sector and meeting and I was now finally able to meet the person in charge of our country’s immigration policy. 

I went over my presentation many times and made sure I stayed within the 3 minutes I had been given to share my thoughts. I even put on a suite for work for the first time in years 🙂 

The meeting began and I saw many familiar faces from various VanHack Hiring Partners who we’ve helped hire and bring tech talent for. That calmed me down a bit as I knew I was among friends.

The Minister logged into Zoom and said a few opening words about how critical the tech sector was in driving economic growth for Canada and how excited he was to bring more skilled workers to our shores. 

We then went around the room introducing ourselves and our companies after which it was my turn to present. 

I started to get butterflies in my stomach as I pressed “Share Screen” and started my presentation. 

This is what I presented: 

First, I shared how great Global Talent Stream has been for Canada. It’s been a night vs day shift in how much faster and easier the paperwork process has been for bringing in foriegn skilled workers to Canada. 

Next, I stressed how much the work permit processing time delays were hurting our economy and as most candidates hired in 2020 have not been able to relocate to Canada yet and are still working remotely in their home countries.  Of course, we all understand why this is the case, but we believe that by bringing these talented and highly paid workers to Canada, we’d be able to speed up the economic recovery process our nation so desperately needs right now. 

I also shared that I believe the Labour Market Benefit Plan is often too confusing and bureaucratic for employers, especially startups, to comply with. We often hear that it’s intimidating and causes them not to go forward with hiring from abroad. 

Other countries, like Germany, Holland, Ireland and more, do not have such a policy in place which I believe allows their companies to move faster when hiring from abroad and brings more taxpayers to their countries. 

I recommend we revise this policy or remove it all together. 

Finally, I spoke about the impact of COVID-19 on the tech immigration sector.

First, more people than ever want to relocate to Canada. We’ve had an almost 6X increase in job applicants as Canada is seen as an even better place to live than before thanks to our great response to the pandemic so far. 

One thing that we can improve though is allowing those professionals who do relocate to keep working for their employers during quarantine. 

We believe that not allowing people to start work  makes sense for workers who need to leave their homes to perform their jobs, but for knowledge workers who just need a laptop and internet access, it doesn’t make as much sense. 

Finally, we see the fact that most companies are now completely distributed as an opportunity to attract tech talent to smaller Canadian cities. More and more employers are making offers to candidates to live anywhere they’d like in Canada and our candidates are deciding to go to smaller cities where cost of living is lower and quality of life is higher.

And of course I thanked the Minister for his time and for listening to me 🙂 


The best part of the presentation was the Minister’s feedback afterwards. He was very engaged and said he’d take this information back to his team and discuss it. 

We have started to see an increase in the amount of Work Permits approved in the last few weeks as things come back to normal. 

Thanks again for the CCI team for the opportunity to share my thoughts. 

And how about you? What would you like to see changed in the Canadian immigration system? 

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