‘It’s a big change’: Saskatchewan opens door to more than 200 in-demand professions

Stephen Smith
Published: September 25, 2019

Saskatchewan’s decision to open its popular Express Entry and Occupation In-Demand immigration sub-categories to candidates with work experience in more than 200 high-skilled occupations marks yet another major development for the province's immigrant nominee program, the SINP. 

Neither sub-category requires a job offer or Canadian work experience in order to be considered for a provincial nomination for Canadian permanent residence from Saskatchewan. One year of skilled work experience in a high-skilled occupation that is deemed to be "in-demand" in Saskatchewan is required, however, among other criteria.

Last week, the SINP replaced its list of eligible occupations, known as the In-Demand Occupation List, with a list of excluded occupations instead. The change saw the number of eligible in-demand occupations jump from 19 to 218 as a result, opening the door to Expressions of Interest from a broad range of candidates with high-skilled work experience who had previously been excluded.

Professions that are now eligible cover the spectrum of high-skilled occupations, from managerial and professional to technical and skilled trades, and represent a variety of industries and sectors, including the following in IT:

  • information systems analysts;
  • database analysts and data administrators;
  • computer network technicians;
  • information systems testing technicians;
  • software engineers and designers;
  • computer programmers and interactive media developers;
  • web designers and developers.

Find out if you are eligible for any Canadian immigration programs

'Positive employment demand'

In an exclusive interview with CIC News, SINP Executive Director Anne McRorie said the move away from an In-Demand Occupation List is “a big change for applicants," one that she believes will better respond to labour requirements in the province.

“We feel this approach is going to help us attract skilled workers with the skills we need,” she said.

All of the 218 occupations that are now eligible currently “have positive employment demand,” she said, citing the Government of Saskatchewan’s Occupational Outlook, which provides labour market information for 437 occupations in the province.

McRorie explained that the move to an Excluded Occupation List will free the SINP from having to regularly revise its list of in-demand professions to reflect the outlook.

“Instead of constantly changing the in-demand list, we’re going with the exclusions list, which are occupations that we won’t invite to apply at all. The ones that are eligible, we’ll invite them based on our Occupational Outlook throughout the year,” McRorie said.

McRorie said the SINP opted to only list excluded occupations because listing both excluded and eligible occupations “would be too confusing.”

The only way to now view the list of eligible occupations on the SINP’s website is to fill out an online Expression of Interest, or EOI.

Among the fields that candidates are required to complete is a drop-down list containing the eligible occupations.

Only eligible candidates whose occupation appears on the drop-down list will be able to submit an EOI into the pool of candidates for either the Express Entry or Occupation In-Demand sub-categories.

Candidate selection

McRorie said a candidate’s EOI score and occupation are the “top factors” when determining who receives an invitation to apply for a nomination from Saskatchewan.

She pointed to the fact the SINP has held several occupation-specific invitation rounds this year and said she expects this to continue in accordance with the province’s Occupational Outlook, which she said program staff monitor for net job openings.

“Anyone who is in the pool, we see if there is positive employment demand,” McRorie said. “So, there’s an opportunity for an invitation.”

Six of the 19 EOI selection rounds held by the SINP this year have targeted candidates with specific work experience.

McRorie said approval rates also play a role in how many people the SINP invites to apply for a provincial nomination in each occupation.

“When people are applying, we look at labour demand and how many people are invited. If they’re approved, we see them as addressing that labour demand."

“As [approval rates] shift, we can be more responsive to new labour market information.”

The move to an Excluded Occupation List is the latest innovation in the SINP’s approach to selecting candidates through its Express Entry and Occupation In-Demand sub-categories.

A key development in this regard was the July 2018 switch to a points-based EOI system for managing the pool of candidates for the two sub-categories.

The EOI system replaced the previous first-come, first-served approach to accepting applications, which favoured the quickest to apply but left many of the province's labour needs unmet.

“Saskatchewan continues to impress with its willingness to try new approaches to inviting candidates,” said David Cohen, senior partner with the Campbell, Cohen Canadian immigration law firm.

“It’s this kind of innovation that makes Canada’s Provincial Nominee Programs so exciting and well-worth paying attention to if you’re considering your immigration options to Canada.”

Find out if you are eligible for any Canadian immigration programs

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