Examination of Alberta jobs data shows that labour shortage claims from groups like CFIB are nothing but hot air
Edmonton – The federal government should tell low-wage employers and the Alberta government to “quit their whining” about recent changes to the controversial Temporary Foreign Worker program, said AFL president Gil McGowan as he released a new study showing that there is no economy-wide labour shortage in Alberta.
The study, entitled “Truth or Scare: Are Claims of a Labour Shortage in Alberta Based on Evidence?” uses empirical, Alberta-specific jobs data to examine the issue — as opposed to the kind of studies released by the CFIB, which rely on surveys of employers who have an incentive to overstate the difficultly they’re having filling positions.
“The labour shortage is basically a myth created by employers who want to keep wages low in the face of economic conditions which suggest they should be going up,” McGowan said. “It’s a myth that’s been used to promote policies like the TFW program that are bad for Canadians.”
Using a test for labour shortage developed by the Federal government’s own economists, the AFL study found that that there is no labour shortage in most sectors of the Alberta economy, including lower-skill, lower-wage sectors like retail, accommodation and food services.
“Now that the federal government has finally put some limits on the ability of low-wage employers to use the TFW program to drive down wages, groups like the CFIB are whining and trying to resurrect the labour-shortage boogeyman,” McGowan said. “This report exposes these complaints for what they really are: empty rhetoric from a group of self-interested whiners who want to short-circuit the healthy operation of the Canadian labour market.”
Experts agree that there is a three-part test to see if a labour shortage really exists. First, employment levels have to go up significantly. Second, unemployment rates have to go down significantly. And third, wages have to go up significantly. By these measures, with the notable exception of a very small number of occupations related to the energy sector, there is no labour shortage in Alberta.
According to Employment Minister Jason Kenney, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) in Alberta has increased by 14 per cent, and overall wages have increased 31 per cent since 2006. But in Alberta’s food services industry, wages have only increased eight per cent over the same period.
“Employers can’t say Canadians are unwilling to fill the jobs on offer until they’ve actually increased wages in keeping with changing market conditions,” McGowan said “What our study shows is that Alberta’s labour market is booming – but we’re not dealing with any economy-wide shortages.”
Although the AFL’s report is the first comprehensive look at available data, this is not the first time that the labour shortage has been shown to be fake. Over the past year, the Parliamentary Budget Office, former Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney, the Institute for Research on Public Policy, the University of Calgary School of Public Policy, Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, the University of Alberta Economics Department and Fraser Institute Fellow Herb Emery have all released reports that debunk the labour shortage myth.
Key findings in the report:
• Retail Trade exhibits neither a shortage of workers nor rising wages.
• From 2010 to 2013, wages in wholesale trade fell
• From 2010 to 2013, wages in accommodation and food services stagnated
• Between 2007 and 2011, 23,100 Albertans enrolled in an apprenticeship program, but only 9,066 completed those programs
• The only occupational categories that saw rapidly rising wages as a result of shortages were in limited energy-related sub-categories.
• Manufacturing and Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services saw wages increase a third and a quarter below average.
Link: “Truth or Scare”
Olav Rokne, Communications Director, Alberta Federation of Labour at 780.218.4351 (cell)
or via e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Minister should be ashamed of Twitter tag-team to peddle TFW expansion and other bad policies
Edmonton – A Twitter forum organized by the Harper government and the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is nothing more than a cheap gimmick aimed at justifying low-wage policies like the expansion of the Temporary Foreign Worker program, says the Alberta Federation of Labour.
Today at noon, Federal Immigration Minister Jason Kenney joined CFIB president Dan Kelly on the social networking site Twitter to answer questions about the Canada Jobs Grant program and “ongoing labour market pressures,” despite Statistics Canada reporting that there are 6.4 unemployed Canadians for every vacant job.
“The CFIB says that there’s a labour shortage – but they always say there’s a labour shortage,” says Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan.
“The low-wage employers that the CFIB represents are using this myth about labour shortages to justify bad public policy, like the expansion of Temporary Foreign Worker program. But experts at the U of A, the U of C, CIBC, and the federal government’s own researchers say the CFIB is wrong.”
In May, the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy published a report stating that Canada had all the workers that we need.
That opinion was echoed by the University of Alberta’s Institute for Public Economics in June, when they wrote that problems in Alberta have more to do with training and productivity than labour shortages.
In 2011, Human Resources and Skills Development Canada projects that there will be no major labour market imbalances over the next ten years.
“We’ve crunched the numbers as well, and it’s clear there is no general labour shortage in Alberta,” McGowan said. “Despite all of the CFIB’s whining, if there is a shortage of anything, it’s a shortage of people willing to work for the crappy wages that employers in the service sector are offering.”
“This Twitter conversation is not a conversation at all. It’s a gimmick designed to spread falsehoods,” concluded McGowan.
“The Minister should be ashamed of himself for spreading misinformation about Canadian labour markets. And he should be ashamed of using the power of government to help low-wage employers keep wages low when economic conditions suggest they should be going up. The Minister has clearly forgotten that he works for Canadians, not the CFIB.”
Olav Rokne, Communications Director, Alberta Federation of Labour at 780.289.6528 (cell)
or via e-mail email@example.com
Re: "AFL says chains abusing program; Foreign staff fill low-wage positions," April 10.
Alberta Federation of Labour leader Gil McGowan makes some sweeping generalizations about Alberta employers and the temporary workers who come here for a chance at a better life.
Alberta employers would rather hire people from our own communities, but what is a business to do when those applications stop coming in?
The temporary foreign worker program is the last and most expensive option for employers looking for workers. It's also an opportunity for a better life for ambitious workers from around the world who want to experience the Alberta standard of living.
Some have criticized the provision allowing employers to pay up to 15 per cent less than the average rate for a given occupation. The purpose of this rule is not to allow employers to pay temporary workers less, but to give them room to pay according to experience and expertise. Companies can't pay temporary foreign workers less than they pay similarly qualified Canadians.
Eliminating the temporary foreign worker program could shut down some Alberta businesses, and severely limit the operation of many more.
If the temporary foreign worker program is used in bad faith, employers can and should be barred from ever using the program again - a consequence provided for under the existing legislation.
Instead of whipping up a false crisis, groups like the AFL would be better served working with the business community to address labour shortages with long-term solutions.
David MacLean, Edmonton David MacLean is vice-president of communications and policy with Alberta Enterprise Group.
Calgary Herald, Friday Apr 12, 2013
Byline: David MacLean
Canada's temporary foreign workers vulnerable to exploitation
OTTAWA—José Sicajau, a Guatemalan man of Indigenous descent, had grown accustomed to exploitative conditions after several years as a Temporary Foreign Worker growing vegetables on a farm in Saint-Michel, Quebec, less than an hour south of Montreal.
But when his boss allegedly attacked a Mexican co-worker in 2006, striking him with an aluminum pole because the assembly of an irrigation system was not going as planned, Sicajau ran out of patience.
"That was the end for me," said Sicajau, 45, speaking through a translator in November. He was in Ottawa with a delegation of human rights activists, touring the region to denounce the program that first brought him to Canada nearly a decade ago.
Some advocates for migrants want the Temporary Foreign Worker Program abolished, calling it racist and exploitative. Unions say the program is designed to weaken labour power in Canada. The NDP calls it a flawed system that takes jobs from Canadians. But business leaders say it is key to economic growth.
Canada is receiving more Temporary Foreign Workers (TFWs) than ever. The Low-Skill Pilot Project—a TFW stream that bars workers from applying for permanent residency—grew by over 2,000 per cent between 2002 and 2010.
TFWs now work in nearly every sector of the Canadian economy: in kitchens and hotels, in the tar sands and on construction sites.
Nearly 30,000 "low-skilled" TFWs were in Canada in 2010, according to an October report published by Maytree, a left-leaning think tank.
And changes made in 2011 to the Low-Skill Pilot Project prevent workers from remaining in Canada for more than four years. Once their time has run out, these changes to the law prohibit them from working in Canada again until six years have passed, according to Joey Caluguay, a community organizer with the Immigrant Workers Centre, a non-profit group in Montreal.
Caluguay says the TFW program should be abolished and the economy transformed so that workers are free from the vagaries of the marketplace.
"You don't create an economy where disposable workers are necessary, or where exploiting workers makes the economy run," says Caluguay, who provides support to TFWs in the Montreal area, including Filipino machinists and Jamaican landscapers.
Experts predict that in 2015, when visas expire under the new law, a huge number of migrants may remain in Canada as undocumented workers, making them vulnerable to unrestrained abuse at the hands of employers and unable to access social services, says Naomi Alboim, Professor of policy studies at Queen's University and co-author of the Maytree report.
"They're already in a very precarious position," says Alboim. "Once they become undocumented, that will increase very significantly."
In Guatemala City, Sicajau co-founded an association committed to defending the rights of migrants after his experience in Canada's Low-Skill Pilot Project. He says the number of Guatemalans in this "low-skill" stream reached 6,000 last year.
Ten years ago, he was among the first.
A farmer by trade, he worked a plot of land with his family in rural Guatemala, raising corn and vegetables before learning about the TFW program from a food-export co-operative.
He would leave his wife, children and grandchildren for months at a time to work in Canada. Then the alleged attack by his employer prompted him and his co-workers to file a complaint with Quebec's labour standards board. The complaint was rejected for lack of evidence, despite the testimony of three migrant workers, a decision Sicajau attributes to racism.
When he returned to Guatemala, the head of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) demanded that he retract the complaint, according to Sicajau.
When he refused, he says, the agency blacklisted him. Since then, the IOM has been replaced by the Foundation for Entrepreneurs Recruiting Foreign Agricultural Workers (FERME), an association of Quebec farmers with an agency operating in Guatemala.
"We gave our everything to work here and to help support the Canadians," Sicajau says. "And as a consequence of denouncing this, we're kicked out of the program."
He added that the head of the IOM who allegedly threatened him now works for FERME.
To Sicajau, the importance of the work performed by so-called "low skilled" workers in Canada—such as farm labour—is underrated.
"Farming is very difficult because you have to work the land, you have to remove the rocks and stones, you have to plant your seeds and tend to the earth," Sicajau says. "It's sacred work that they do to put food on the table."
Adrian Smith, a Professor of law and legal studies at Carleton University and a member of the non-profit group Justicia for Migrant Workers (J4MW), says TFWs are vulnerable to exploitation because their visa is linked to a single employer. Rocking the boat can lead to deportation.
"You have to put up with the nonsense that the employer imposes on you," Smith says.
Some TFWs have been killed in Canada, like 39-year-old Jamaican farm labourer Ned Livingston Peart, who was crushed by an iron bin while trying to load a tobacco kiln. Others have been injured while performing dangerous work, or have grown ill from exposure to pesticides.
Indigenous people like Sicajau often find themselves pushed into migrant labour by grinding poverty, ecological destruction and political violence, Smith adds. These conditions make people willing to tolerate abusive employers overseas.
Smith argues that wealthy countries contribute to these conditions through policies like free trade agreements that allow corporations to run rampant. Canada, he says, should allow migrants to stay.
But Conservative MP Rick Dykstra defended the restrictions imposed on migrant workers when questioned by The Dominion as he paused in the lobby outside the House of Commons before a vote.
"Temporary foreign worker program," said Dykstra, a member of the House of Commons immigration committee. "It's not a path to permanent residency."
When asked to justify this policy, Dykstra said: "We need folks to do the work, and there's an opportunity for [TFWs] to fulfil that obligation."
Dykstra said he was unaware of any TFWs being abused. He also said any employer that abused a worker would be blacklisted. The "ineligible employers" list has been blank since it appeared on the Immigration Canada website in 2011.
Top industry associations have praised the TFW program for addressing what they call an acute labour shortage in Canada.
The Canadian Council of Chief Executives, in a July 2012 report, called labour shortages "one of the greatest threats" to potential development of energy resources, including the burgeoning oil and gas sector—although unemployment rates have remained stubbornly high, especially among youth.
The report also hailed "the proposed expansion of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program."
Rapid tar sands development has meant the job market has been in recruitment mode in Alberta, but labour shortages have developed across the country, according to Corinne Pohlmann, Vice-President of National Affairs for the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.
"The Temporary Foreign Worker Program became a very important tool for employers to fill those gaps," Pohlmann says, adding that many businesses want the process sped up.
Before issuing a temporary visa to a migrant worker, Service Canada is supposed to check whether the employer has attempted to train or hire Canadians.
The bureaucratic process made headlines in October with reports that a Vancouver-based mining corporation had recruited 200 low-paid Chinese workers after posting ads seeking Mandarin-speaking workers. Critics called this a clear signal that the company never intended to hire Canadian workers.
The story of the mine workers became a political football in the House of Commons, with NDP Immigration Critic Jinny Sims saying those jobs should belong to Canadians.
Sims did not reply to an interview request, but stated during Question Period in December that "Canadian jobs are still being given away" under the TFW program.
Nearly 30 per cent of all new jobs created between 2007 and 2011 were for TFWs, according to Canadian Auto Workers Economist Jim Stanford.
Stanford argues that the program puts downward pressure on wages because employers are allowed to pay TFWs up to 15 per cent less than the average local wage earned by Canadians.
Groups including the Alberta Federation of Labour have called the TFW program an effort to drive down wages and working conditions while bypassing unions.
According to Alboim, many of those jobs could employ people who tend to struggle with unemployment, including refugees and new immigrants. "There are people in this country for whom these jobs would be important entries to the labour market," Alboim says. She argues that the Low-Skilled Pilot Project should be abolished.
To Smith, Canada's temporary worker schemes summon memories of the 19th century, when Chinese labourers were recruited to perform the most dangerous and low-paying work on the construction of the railway.
"Over time, we have used so-called foreign labour to do the heavy lifting of this country, to develop much of the infrastructure," says Smith. "It's incumbent on us to open up our conception of who belongs, [of] who's a citizen."
The Dominion, a media cooperative, Apr. 12, 2013
Byline: David Koch, freelance writer
Labour unions in B.C. and Alberta are pushing for reforms to the Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) program, as a judicial review begins in Federal Court into the process that allowed HD Mining to hire Chinese nationals at a coal mine in northeastern B.C.
"This judicial review of the HD Mining permits will be the most comprehensive examination of Canada's Temporary Foreign Worker Program ever conducted," said Brian Cochrane, business manager of the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 115.
"We know that there are over 300,000 Temporary Foreign Workers employed in Canada today and 70,000 of those in B.C., but we've never seen the internal workings of how the federal government makes decisions on granting work permits to companies requesting them,"
The IUOE and the Construction and Specialized Workers Union (CSWU) Local 1611 unions will be in Federal Court in Vancouver for a judicial review between April 9 and 11.
The judicial review will investigate the process within Human Resources and Services Development Canada (HRSDC) that granted HD Mining permission to import 201 Chinese nationals at the $300 million Murray River underground coal mine, near Tumbler Ridge, B.C.
The unions argue HRSDC failed to ensure there were no Canadians to do the work. In addition, they claim that the TFWs are being offered wages far below prevailing rates.
HD Mining received at least 300 resumes from Canadian citizens or permanent residents, who applied to work at the proposed project.
The company did not hire one Canadian applicant to work at the mine, claiming they were not qualified.
"The documents we have already obtained through our court action clearly show the Temporary Foreign Worker Program is not working for Canadians," said Mark Olsen, business manager of the CSWU Local 1611.
"I suspect that other documents being disclosed for the first time in court this week – likely on Wednesday when we make our arguments – will provide even more evidence that our concerns are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg."
Given all the problems that have already been revealed in this case, Olsen wants the federal government to make several significant changes to the TFW program.
"Available jobs need to go to Canadians first and Canadians need to be skilled up in order to do the work," he said.
"There has to be a real shortage determined and that is where unions come in. Unions should be involved to determine if there is a real shortage."
Once a real shortage is identified, Olsen said the foreign workers have to be brought into the country properly, not by brokers or companies that will exploit them.
Once in Canada, foreign workers need to be paid to the full Canadian wages and benefits standard, he said.
In addition, there needs to be enforcement by the federal and provincial government.
Finally, there needs to be a path toward citizenship.
"That's what needs to happen across the country," said Olsen. "The federal and provincial governments need to get their act together."
After obtaining a list of fast-tracked TFW applications using an Access to Information request, the Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) agrees that the problems with HD Mining are just the tip of the iceberg.
The document lists all approved TFW applications in the first eight months of the new Accelerated Labour Market Opinion (ALMO) process.
According to the AFL, more than 2,400 ALMO guest-worker permits were granted to fast-food restaurants, convenience stores and gas stations between April 25 and Dec. 18, 2012.
These permits are supposed to be reserved for highly-skilled employment.
The AFL is calling on the Auditor General of Canada to conduct a full audit of the ALMO approval process.
"Alberta is leading the way in misusing this approval process," said AFL president Gil McGowan.
"This isn't being used as a stop-gap, and it isn't a last resort for employers."
More than 54 per cent (2,640) of the ALMO approvals in the country were for Alberta-based employers. Of these, AFL researchers said more than 58 per cent (1,542) were questionable.
The list of businesses in Alberta who received ALMO approvals included 33 A&W restaurants.
The Journal of Commerce, Monday, Apr. 08, 2013
Byline: Richard Gilbert, staff writer
EDMONTON - A labour group is calling for a review of a federal program designed to help employers quickly hire temporary foreign workers for high-skill jobs.
The Alberta Federation of Labour says since the program was announced last April, more than 2,400 permits have been approved to hire foreign workers for low-skill service industry positions.
Federation president Gil McGowan says access to information documents show the employers include fast-food restaurants, convenience stores and gas stations.
"You look down this list, and it's McDonald's, Tim Hortons, A&W, Subway," McGowan said Tuesday.
"Are we supposed to believe that these are 'high-skill' employment opportunities?"
Some of the other businesses listed in the documents include The Big Moo Ice Cream Parlour in Alberta, Burger King in British Columbia and Pizza Express in Ontario.
McGowan said the permits are being used to replace Canadian workers and drive down wages.
He has sent a letter, along with the documents, to federal auditor general Michael Ferguson. It asks for an audit of the government's approval process.
Under the federal Accelerated-Labour Market Opinion (ALMO) program, employers can pay foreign workers up to 15 per cent less than Canadian workers. The program is designed to process permits to hire temporary foreign workers for high-skill jobs, including the skilled trades, within 10 business days.
"The percentage of ALMO approvals for businesses that largely employ low-skilled workers appears to be in direct contradiction to the stated parameters of the program," McGowan writes in the letter.
Officials with Human Resources and Skills Development Canada did not respond to a request for comment.
McGowan said just over half of the approvals by the department are for businesses in Alberta, including 33 A&W restaurants.
Information posted on the department's website says permits under ALMO have been approved for every jurisdiction in the country except for Prince Edward Island, the Yukon and Nunavut.
Dan Kelly, president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, said many small- and medium-size employers need temporary foreign workers to fill jobs. The need is most pressing in Western Canada and in rural communities right across the country, he said.
"I take it as a positive that businesses of all skill levels are able to access this expedited process. Our members really need those expedited processes," Kelly said from Toronto.
"We are moving into large pockets of the country where it has gone beyond a skills shortage and has moved into a general labour shortage where there is no one available to take the jobs that are on offer by Canadian employers."
The CFIB says it represents more than 109,000 businesses across the country.
McGowan said if employers are having a tough time finding workers, they should pay higher wages or the federal government could increase immigration.
He suggested initiatives such as ALMO and the Temporary Foreign Worker program are not the answer.
"Workers who want to come to Canada should enjoy the same rights and privileges as other Canadian residents," he said.
"We shouldn't be paying them 15 per cent less than Canadians, and government shouldn't be whisking them in through an accelerated and duplicitous process."
The Victoria Times Colonist, Apr. 9, 2013
Alberta Federation of Labour to call for inquiry in light of growing evidence of fraud
Edmonton – A list of fast-tracked temporary foreign worker applications shows that scandals at Royal Bank and HD Mining are just the tip of the iceberg.
The document, which the Alberta Federation of Labour will release at a press conference on Tuesday, April 9, lists all approved TFW applications in the first eight months of the new Accelerated Labour Market Opinion (ALMO) process. Thousands of ALMO guest worker permits – which are supposed to be reserved for highly-skilled employment – have been granted to fast-food restaurants, convenience stores and gas stations.
"You look down this list, and it's McDonalds, Tim Hortons, A&W, Subway sandwiches. Are we supposed to believe that these are 'high-skill' employment opportunities?" Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan said. "These permits are being used to replace Canadian workers with people who will have reduced bargaining power."
What: Alberta Federation of Labour to release list of Temporary Foreign Worker program "high-skilled" employer list
Where: Crowne Plaza Chateau Lacombe Hotel
River Valley Room, Lobby Level
10111 Bellamy Hill Rd NW, Edmonton
When: 1:30 PM, Tuesday, April 9
Who: Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan
Olav Rokne, AFL Communications Director at 780-289-6528 (cell) or via email firstname.lastname@example.org.
CALGARY - Alberta business groups say a rejigged skills training program included in the most recent federal budget could offer some relief for the province's tight labour market.
Travis Davies of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers says connecting the right workers with the right jobs is a "huge challenge" in the oilpatch, where skilled tradespeople such as pipefitters and plumbers are in high demand.
"To the degree that you can get support from both the federal government and the provincial government, it's very positive," he said.
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty made skills training a centrepiece of the 2013-14 budget with the Canada Job Grant.
Ottawa, provincial governments and employers would each shoulder a third of the $15,000 training grant, which is expected to come into effect about a year from now.
Ottawa still needs to get the provinces on side with the plan, and Quebec and Ontario have already expressed misgivings.
But in the West, where unemployment rates are very low, the idea is being embraced.
The man in charge of recruitment at oil producer Cenovus Energy Inc. (TSX:CVE) called the announcement "exciting."
"I think it provides an opportunity and incentive for all appropriate stakeholders to work more closely together," he said.
"I think it's important to recognize that this is a piece of the puzzle. It's not something that was announced to be the ultimate solution."
Ben Brunnen, chief economist at the Calgary Chamber of Commerce, called the job grant a "great first step" that is "key to helping to alleviate the labour challenges."
"What that does is it ensures that the provinces and the federal government and employers get together at the same table to make sure they get the right people with the right skills in the right job."
The labour tightness is not restricted to Alberta's all-important oil and gas industry, Brunnen said. The tourism and hospitality industries, for instance, are also having a tough time.
"It definitely permeates across the Alberta economy," he said. "There are particular occupations under pressure in Alberta that are confronted with relatively chronic shortages and increasingly, employers have been focusing on overseas and immigrants as solutions to the labour challenges."
Brunnen said the chamber also likes that there will be more of a focus on attracting talent within Canada than from overseas.
"That's been the big issue for employers — yes, there might be some Canadians that are unemployed but they just don't have the skills that we're looking for."
However, there are challenges in attracting workers to Alberta that don't have to do with training, Brunnen conceded.
"A lot of the demand for the energy sector is happening in the field, in the oilpatch. Those are in locations that are sometimes a little bit difficult to work in, or are sometimes a little bit remote."
Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour, said the government's job training promises amount to a "fraud" so long as the temporary foreign worker program is an option.
The budget did include some new rules making it harder for employers to rely on the temporary foreign worker program.
"Employers in this country are not going to train workers aggressively as long as they have the option to use cheap, exploitable workers through the Temporary Foreign Worker program," said McGowan.
"We'll never have a system that actually promotes the training of the next generation of skilled trades as long as the temporary foreign worker program is continuously expanded, which is exactly what we've been seeing with the Harper government over the last five years."
Victoria Times Colonist, Friday, Mar. 22, 2013
Byline: Lauren Krugel, Canadian Press
Hoping to quickly close Canada's growing labour gap of tradespeople, federal Immigration Minister Jason Kenney has unveiled a new plan that would quickly turn skilled foreign workers into permanent Canadian residents.
Kenney says the Skilled Trades Stream will help fill a serious labour shortage caused by Canada's growing natural resource economy, particularly in the oilsands and remote areas of the country. The program will only admit a maximum of 3,000 people to avoid backlogs. Applications will be accepted after Jan. 2, 2013.
"For too long, Canada's immigration system has not been open to these in-demand skilled workers," said Kenney. "These changes are long overdue and will help us move to a fast and flexible immigration system that works for Canada's economy."
Applicants will not have to meet the criteria of the points system that is already used for prospective immigrants or other skilled foreign workers.
Instead, the new program will consider applicants who have a job offer in Canada, have a basic proficiency in English or French, can prove they have experience in an in-demand trade. They must also show that their occupation qualifies as a trade under federal regulations.
The need for skilled tradespeople is most dire in Alberta, where the province estimates that it will need an additional 115,000 skilled tradesworkers over the next 10 years.
A spokesperson with the Alberta Federation of Labour said the program will help the province's economic growing pains. However, the AFL is still concerned about employment protection for low-skilled foreign workers already operating in Canada.
Fort McMurray Today, Tues Dec 11 2012
— Today staff
Government documents show claims of an acute “labour shortage” based on mathematical fiction
The claim that Alberta will be short “114,000” workers has appeared so many times in industry and media as to
appear an unassailable truth.