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Canada benefiting from U.S. brain drain as skilled workers flee Trump: lawyer

President Trump
President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with House Republicans in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017. (Evan Vucci/AP)

CTV Vancouver
Published Friday, February 24, 2017 2:32PM PST
Last Updated Friday, February 24, 2017 3:26PM PST

One month in, it’s unclear what impact Donald Trump’s erratic presidency will have on Canada, but there already appears to be one upside: an influx of skilled workers.

Jokes about moving north were common during last year’selection campaign, but in the wake of Trump’stravel ban and other concerning policies, some U.S. residents seem intent on actually taking the plunge.

That’saccording to Vancouver immigration lawyer Richard Kurland, who told CTV News he’s received a flood of calls from people interested in moving to Canada.

"This represents for Canada what I call the ‘Trump Dividend.’ We see the best of the best trampoline out of the United States to yield high-level, high-paying salaries in top tier professions," Kurland said.

"We are reaping human capital the same way America reaped human capital during that awful World War II period, where the brightest and the best departed Europe for the sanctuary of America."

The requests are primarily coming from tech industry workers, Kurland said, almost all of whom are Muslims concerned about the direction the U.S. is taking.

"The word repeated in eight out of 10 interviews was ‘fear.’ And I’ve never seen that before," he said. "These are highly educated, PhD-level or senior executives who said they’ve had enough."

In the U.S., major tech companies, including Google and Amazon, utilize the country’s H1B visas to recruit thousands of foreign professionals to work in America for an allotted time period.

Microsoft alone currently has 5,000 such workers in the country, according to reports.

But in the wake of Trump’stravel ban, which was put on hold by the courts but is expected to be replaced next week, some firms have announced they are considering moving their hires to other countries instead.

Seeking to capitalize on the trend, entrepreneur Michael Tippett recently launched True North, a company geared toward relocating workers and setting up satellite offices in Vancouver.

Tippett said he’salready fielding hundreds of requests from Silicon Valley.

"People are concerned things might change in unpredictable ways and they want to set up, essentially, an insurance policy where they can move people up here in the event something unexpected happened," he said.

It’s all welcome news to the B.C. government, which has prioritized growing the province’s tech sector. Jobs Minister Shirley Bond said a surge in skilled workers could create a ripple effect in the industry.

"We will continue to make sure that the tech sector knows it’swelcome here in British Columbia," Bond said.

With a report from CTV Vancouver’s Penny Daflos


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