British Columbia’s economic growth depends on having enough skilled and qualified people to meet labour market needs. The B.C. Provincial Nominee Program (B.C. PNP) supports B.C. employers to attract and retain needed talent. It acts as a critical tool to meet B.C.’s labour market and economic development needs and priorities.
Immigration to B.C. through the Provincial Nominee Program is administered in partnership with the federal government in accordance with the 2015 Canada-British Columbia Immigration Agreement (CBCIA), whereby the Federal government allocates a limited number of nominations each year to the B.C. PNP program. Potential B.C. PNP applicants, with support of eligible B.C. employers, complete a registration and are ranked based on the Skills Immigration Registration Scoring (SIRS). Subsequently, the B.C. PNP invites the highest ranked applicants to apply for permanent residence.
B.C. is expected to have 861,000 job openings between 2019 to 2029. This includes the creation of over 200,000 new jobs due to economic growth and the need to replace approximately 600,000 workers who will permanently leave the workforce due to retirements. 
In contrast, the number of people available for work is growing more slowly, as population growth decreases and the gap between births and deaths narrows. Having enough trained workers to meet future needs will be a challenge. The Hon. Melanie Mark, then Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training, has acknowledged this challenge will be addressed, in part, by immigration. It is expected that immigrants will fill about 27% of forecasted job openings between now and 2029, with in-migrants and people entering the labour market for the first time accounting for another fifty-eight percent of new workers. The remaining 15% of job opportunities remain vacant throughout B.C. during this period.
- 25% of manufacturing workers are due to retire by 2030 and there is no clear group to fill the shortage (individuals under the age of 25 comprise only 6 percent of the sector’s workforce, there are not enough Canadian youth to fill the labour shortage expected in this industry)
- The construction industry is anticipated to be short 82,000 tradespeople by 2029
- Worker shortages will continue to challenge Canada’s post-pandemic labour market as the baby-boom generation continues to move into retirement age. Roughly 23% of the working age population is expected to be 65 years or older by 2024.
- Shortages won’t be limited to the industrial sector. Shifts in labour markets during the pandemic mean there won’t be enough unemployed workers to fill in gaps in other industries, particularly hospitality
- Higher wages, investments in technology and machinery to improve efficiency, will not be enough to fill the current and projected labour shortage. Immigration is needed to fill the gap.
The B.C. Provincial Nominee Program currently falls short of helping employers survive the current labour crisis. Current issues include:
- The current user interface does not effectively filter candidates who are eligible to apply. Candidates are only screened after they submit a completed application and pay the government processing fee of $1150 CDN. If an applicant was erroneously awarded points for a typing error or misunderstanding in their profile and their registration score would have not been above the invitation threshold in their round of invitations to apply, their application is refused and the government processing fee is not refunded. This creates a waste of resources for the BC PNP as officers are spending time evaluating applications which should not have been invited to apply from the beginning. This is also wasteful for the foreign national as they lose their time, energy, and government processing fee, instead of working towards meeting the program criteria correctly. Foreign nationals cannot be expected to have a comprehensive understanding of the entire program policy and process.
- If a candidate who has an active BC PNP profile in a pool needs to make a change to their profile there is no edit option. The only option available to the candidate is to withdraw their entire profile and create and submit a brand new profile from scratch.
- The current B.C. Provincial Nominee Program groups all skilled workers together and scores them using the same points system. This means skilled trades, who predominantly have a lower level of education and lower language test scores, are competing with senior executives and managers. Skilled trades, while in incredibly high demand, are unable to secure an invitation to apply to the BC PNP as other skilled workers in roles that traditionally have higher education requirements and higher salaries, are inflating the points threshold to be invited to apply.
THE CHAMBER RECOMMENDS
That the Provincial Government:
- Encourage the Government of Canada to expand the Provincial Nominee Program and increase total number of available nominations to help employers attract and retain employees with the skills, experience and qualifications required to fill current and future job openings in their provinces.
- As part of its Future Ready: Skills for Jobs of Tomorrow plan, develop more targeted programs for skilled trades people to fill the current and ongoing labour shortage in these industries.
- Advanced screening of provincial nominees to ensure their points and eligibility are determined at the profile stage.