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Pilot Project for Software Professionals Extended

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OTTAWA, December 29, 1998 — Lucienne Robillard, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Pierre S. Pettigrew, Minister of Human Resources Development, and John Manley, Minister of Industry, today announced that the federal government will continue to expedite the processing of software development workers for admission to Canada.

Until Canada’s comprehensive redesign of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program has been completed, Canadian employers will be able to continue recruiting workers as they have been doing under a pilot project launched last year and scheduled to end on December 31, 1998.

Originally implemented on May 5, 1997, the pilot project was designed to respond to Canadian software industry concerns regarding a continued skills shortage and to streamline the federal government validation process. This initiative facilitates the temporary entry of highly skilled software development workers to fill positions for which no Canadian citizens or permanent residents can be found.

“Ongoing shortages in the software sector make it prudent for us to continue expedited processing while incorporating the results of the pilot project into the final Temporary Foreign Worker Program,” said Minister Robillard.

Working in partnership with the Software Human Resource Council, the government is undertaking many initiatives to address the longer-term issue of skill shortages in the software development sector and to expand training and development opportunities for Canadians.

“The Canadian government and its partners view expedited processing as an important short-term solution that will help to ensure that one of the country’s fastest growing employment sectors can remain competitive, both domestically and internationally,” explained Minister Pettigrew. “That said, the government remains committed to ensuring that employment opportunities are made available to Canadian citizens and permanent residents first.”

“The federal government recognizes the importance of software development to many industrial sectors, and to Canada’s economic growth,” said Minister Manley. “We must ensure that employers who are unable to access software skills in Canada can attract skilled, knowledgeable workers from abroad. Solving the shortage of information technology (IT) skills in general is critical to the development of the Canadian IT industry in the global, knowledge-based economy.”

An evaluation was done as part of the pilot project. The results of the evaluation, published on November 30, 1998, confirmed the satisfaction of the Canadian software industry. Canadian employers praised the speed and simplicity of the processing and appreciated the measures taken to ensure both the legal entry of highly skilled foreign workers and access to them. The evaluation also highlighted some operational challenges, which are currently being addressed in the redesign of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.

“My department intends to keep these improvements within the context of the redesign of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program,” said Minister Robillard. “Human Resources Development, Industry, and Citizenship and Immigration are working to develop a model that will allow us to extend the benefits of the best elements of the software pilot project to other worthy sectors in the Canadian economy,” the Minister added.