The Expression of Interest System Is Flawed

By Andy Semotiuk | October 30, 2013

Immigration lawyer Andy Semotiuk – Pace ImmigrationI read with interest this piece from the Toronto Star:

Canada is set to launch its “Express of Interest System” (EOI) to let employers cherry-pick skilled immigrants from a pool of pre-screened candidates.

In tabling his annual report to the Parliament Monday, Immigration Minister Chris Alexander also announced that Ottawa will admit between 240,000 and 265,000 permanent residents to Canada in 2014, the same level as this year.

“While Canadians will continue to get the first crack at available jobs, getting the right people in the right places is key to addressing regional labour needs and fuelling Canada’s long-term prosperity,” Alexander said in Ottawa.

The EOI system is to start on Jan. 1, 2015.

While the Expression of Interest system (EOI) in which the federal government proposes to act as match maker – employers looking for employees, overseas employees searching for Canadian employers – looks promising in theory, I fear that the program will not meet with success.

The whole premise of a centrally planned, “federal mind” matching Canadian employers with foreign employees is fatally flawed. If the plan is for someone in Ottawa to decide how many chefs, pilots, tailors, and miners are needed in, say, Vancouver, Montreal, Saskatchewan, and Sudbury, then it is not going to work. These and a million other decisions change from moment to moment and from day to day. To try and read the tea leaves on these considerations is practically impossible. There is no realistic way for the federal government to do this – only the unfettered free market is capable of effectively doing this kind of match making.

For this reason, while the program may satisfy the theoretical needs of a good Canadian immigration program, it will not work in practice. Yes, thousands of overseas employees can be pooled, and yes, an employer’s needs can be a basis of choosing from that pool. But there is a huge caveat: the timely processing of applicants.

As Wayne Gretzky famously put it, he did not skate to where the puck was but to where the puck was going to be. By trying to match an employer with an employee they need right now, the EOI is skating to where the puck is. The problem is that the employer can’t have the employee today, because the processing time could take months. What normal employer can wait months for an employee to be processed through the Canadian immigration system? That part of the problem is not addressed in the EOI proposal.

Frankly, I do not know where this new program will lead, but I know that it does not make sense from an economic point of view. And if it does not make sense economically, why is the immigration system gearing up to implement it?