What Canada’s Increased Immigration Levels Mean for Toronto’s Financial Services Industry


Posted by TFI on November 30, 2018

Source: TFI Newsletter November 2018 Edition 

The Canadian government recently released its immigration levels plan for 2019 to 2021, aimed at increasing permanent residents to Canada, with a focus on spurring economic innovation.

Toronto employs almost 400,000 professionals in the Financial Services Industry; making it Canada’s largest financial centre, and the second largest financial center in North America. Financial Services (FS) professionals work in the country’s well-established banking institutions, as well as in securities and investment, insurance, fund management and technology companies. While the FS industry has been actively developing this talent domestically, having world-class talent means attracting many professionals from abroad. The FS industry in Toronto has had to innovate to attract, develop and retain top talent to sustain its competitive advantage, among other global financial hubs.

The FS industry, and the FinTech sub-industry in particular, has historically faced challenges in competing globally for talent, including immigration regulations that often prioritize traditional financial and accounting occupations and recognize a limited range of educational backgrounds to qualify for temporary work permits and permanent residency in Canada. More recently, the government of Canada has made significant strides to address these challenges by increasing the categories for work permit sponsorship and facilitating permanent residency nomination programs. For example, the government’s Global Skills Strategy, introduced in 2017, has helped Canadian employers to attract highly skilled workers through faster processing times and work permit exemptions. The government’s latest immigration plan is a continuation of this effort.

The plan remains focused on attracting the best and brightest from around the world

On October 31, 2018, the Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, announced the government’s immigration levels plan for 2019 to 2021, which will increase the number of permanent residents Canada welcomes each year. The Minister highlighted the importance of economic immigration in spurring innovation domestically and emphasized that the plan remains focused on attracting the best and brightest from around the world with the majority of the increase in 2021 allotted to high-skilled economic immigration. 

Under the plan, Canada will welcome the following number of permanent residents each year:

  • 2019: 330,800 foreign nationals
  • 2020: 341,000 foreign nationals
  • 2021: 350,00 foreign nationals

The targets for immigration levels will be allocated as follows:

  • 58 percent under the economic class, including skilled workers applying under Express Entry and Provincial Nominee Programs among others;
  • 26 percent under the family class; and
  • 16 percent for refugees.

Financial and information technology positions were among the top five positions for immigrants in 2017 

The numbers reflect the government’s view that immigrants will help to drive innovation and support the domestic labour market while addressing the demographic realities of an aging workforce. The plan also recognized that financial and information technology positions were among the top five positions for immigrants in 2017, leading the government to focus on expanding immigration into fields such as information technology, and will lead to increased migration opportunities for FinTech professionals, in particular.

Higher immigration targets for permanent residents and a focus on economic immigrants will encourage the continued hiring of foreign talent by Canadian employers. More specifically, the plan is consistent with the stated objectives of Toronto’s FS industry - to grow and sustain its long-term talent advantage globally, while driving innovation through FinTech and Cybersecurity initiatives. While there will also be regulatory and compliance requirements to ensure the domestic workforce in Canada has equal opportunities in the industry, the plan is a clear indication that the industry’s need to attract world-class talent has much needed government support to sustain ongoing success. This support has come at exactly the right time for Toronto’s FS industry. The time is now to pursue top talent and innovative firms globally, for the city to further solidify its global competitive advantage.

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