Microsoft to hire mostly foreign workers for Vancouver Centre?

Dec 19 2017, 10:25 pm

If you were hoping to work at Microsoft’s new Centre of Excellence opening in Vancouver, you may have to compete with a talented pool of international applicants.

When first announced, the Microsoft Canada project was praised for creating hundreds of jobs in the tech and computer engineering sector, but according to documents obtained by CBC, only 20 of 400 new jobs might be given to Canadians.

In the draft documents, dated from 2013 to 2014, Microsoft Canada proposes to Citizen and Immigration Canada (CIC) and B.C.’s Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training (JTST) that The Centre include jobs for foreign workers.


In August, 2013, Microsoft communicates:

“The Centre would welcome up to 700 new international hires annually to take an educational, training, and work experience program before being permanently placed in Microsoft’s global offices… The 18 month program includes a minimum of three months foundational education and training and up to 15 months productive hands-on work experience.”

The Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training Deputy Minister then writes their intent to “exercise its authority under the Canada-British Columbia Immigration Agreement, Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) Annex” to support Microsoft’s proposal.

A few months later in October, 2013, CIC also acknowledges support of Microsoft’s plan:

“Citizenship and Immigration Canada strongly supports British Columbia in this use of its TFW authorities, and is in agreement with the province that this exemption from the Labour Market Opinion (LMO) process will be of significant economic benefit to Canada and B.C. given the particular nature of this project. CIC will continue to work with B.C. to ensure that, with an acceptable proposal by Microsoft in place, our operations provide predictable and timely issuance of work permits to temporary foreign workers associated with this initiative.”

In further documents, Microsoft reports that various employee categories would be made up of both international and Canadian workers. Program trainee positions would be open to all international applicants, including Canadians, but no guaranteed number of Canadians would be included.

Only 10 per cent of their core employees at the Centre’s launch, including executives and management team, would be Canadian workers. They cite approval from CIC and the province of B.C for this figure.

50 student positions would go toward university students from Canadian universities, including students studying here from abroad.

Letters and documents confirming this deal are dated as late as March 21, 2014.

But according to CBC, these documents and figures may be out of date.

In December 2014, CBC reported “most of” the 400 Centre for Excellence jobs would be held by Canadians, citing information from the CIC.

CIC spokesperson Nancy Caron confirmed again to the news outlet that the information has not changed.

“The documents referenced date back to 2013 and early 2014, and describe the early planning stages and preliminary discussions around the Microsoft Canada Excellence Centre, which occurred during that time period. We stand by the information that we provided to you in December,” she wrote in an email to CBC.

There is still question, however, over exactly how many Canadians will be employed with Microsoft’s Centre.

The company in question issued a written statement on March 17, hinting that foreign workers may still make up a large proportion of their workforce.

“”[As] we hire staff for our new excellence centre, we will be recruiting talent from around the world (in addition to Canada), which may result in that balance shifting.”

A spokesperson from the provincial government argues that no British Columbians will be displaced from jobs with Microsoft’s training centre, meaning that current residents will have an equal opportunity applying for positions as international applicants.

The 143,000 sq. ft. Centre of Excellence will occupy the top two levels of the new Nordstrom’s building and is expected to open in 2015.


DH Vancouver StaffDH Vancouver Staff

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