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Canada, Like Australia, Reforming Immigration Laws to Attract Foreign Workers

Gil McGowan, President of the Alberta Federation of Labour

In Canada, construction groups and skilled trades representatives are welcoming changes to the immigration system that will make it easier for businesses to hire foreign skilled workers.

A skilled labor shortage has been alleged in Canada over the past decade, but while some are happy that new reforms will help recruit foreign workers, some want to see new training programs to employ the 1.5 million Canadians who could fill the jobs if correctly trained. A similar scenario is currently playing out in Australia as well.

As new jobs become available, in part thanks to the new oil sands projects opening in Northern Alberta, there is a rush to find qualified workers for new sites:

“This is a landmark change for skilled trades professionals who want to apply to come to Canada on a permanent basis,” Robert Blakeley, director of Canadian affairs for the Canadian Building Trades Union, said in a statement.

John Telford, Canadian director of United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters, said the changes to the immigration rules will help “in the long-term replenishing an aging work force; it is part of the solution for the labour demand issue.”

Mr. Kenney made the announcement on Tuesday in Calgary, the financial heart of Canada’s oil and gas industry and a city all too familiar with skilled labour shortages.

“In Canada we’ve been welcoming historic high numbers of immigrants, partly to help us fuel our prosperity in the future and fill growing labour shortages,” he said.

“But, to be honest, our immigration programs haven’t been effective in addressing a lot of those shortages. Our immigration programs have become rigid and slow and passive.”

While the new program is an improvement over using temporary foreign workers, many, including Gil McGowan President of the Alberta Federation of Labour, argue more should be done to train unemployed Canadian workers.

“There’s a gap that needs to be bridged between the demand for workers in areas like the oil sands and the supply of workers in places like Ontario and Quebec,” Mr. McGowan said.

The new reforms will also make it easier for incoming skilled workers to become permanent citizens.

There are some avenues for newcomers to become permanent residents, such as the Provincial Nominee Program and the Canadian Experience Class. Mr. Kenney said those have been helpful, but insufficient. “There are still huge gaps. We’re talking about tens if not hundreds of thousands of shortages in the skilled trades predicted in the next decade alone.”


One Comment on “Canada, Like Australia, Reforming Immigration Laws to Attract Foreign Workers”

  1. There are many skilled workers outside Canada especially here in our country The Philippines, even in India, and Indonesia whom could fill out skilled labour shortages in Canada. The only problem that arises is the high point system cap of the Canadian Immigration.

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