September 27, 2007

Skilled Labour

Construction identified as high-demand occupation in temporary foreign worker pilot project

A pilot project has been launched to help meet the demand for temporary foreign workers in British Columbia and Alberta.

The project will allow eligible employers needing workers in 12 specific occupations to receive their Labour Market Opinions much faster than in the past.

A Labour Market Opinion assesses the potential impact of hiring a foreign worker will have on Canada’s labour market. The 12 occupations in the pilot project have been identified as being in high demand and include the construction, tourism and hospitality sectors.

“I’m very glad to hear that construction is one of the sectors covered by the pilot,” said Keith Sashaw, Vancouver Regional Construction Association president.

“Speeding up the process will really help the construction industry in Vancouver.”

Temporary foreign workers have recently been recruited in larger waves to Alberta and British Columbia due to increased oil and gas development and 2010 Olympic projects.

In 2006, there were 171,844 temporary foreign workers living in Canada, a 122 per cent increase from 10 years ago. The government estimates half of these entered Canada based on a labour market opinion.

Of these 171,844 temporary foreign workers, 45 per cent were in Ontario, 22 per cent in British Columbia and 14 per cent in Alberta.

However, Alberta has experienced a 400 per cent burst in foreign worker demand, going from 1,957 workers in May 2006 to 8,186 workers in May 2007.

Carpenters and crane operators are the two construction related professions listed with the pilot project.

A sample of the other professions ranged from registered nurses and pharmacists to snowboard/ski instructors and food counter attendants.

The project’s occupations represent about 25 per cent of the combined volume of regular requests for labour market opinions in British Columbia and Alberta.

The occupations were identified as being in high demand sectors where there is a high degree of confidence labour market information is easily accessible.

“We think this is a balanced approach meeting the immediate needs of employers and at the same time ensuring foreign temporary workers are protected.

“We can learn a lot from this 12 month pilot,” said Jerry Lampert, Business Council of British Columbia president and chief executive officer.

In addition to the pilot project, the federal government and British Columbia are working together on the development of a Memorandum of Understanding which will strengthen protections for temporary foreign workers.

A similar agreement with Alberta was announced in July.

Monte Solberg, Canada’s human resources and social development minister, says the government is improving the Temporary Foreign Worker program “so we can help ease some of the pressures businesses face when dealing with labour shortages.”

By The Numbers

There was a 400 per cent increase in demand for foreign workers in Alberta between May 2006 and May 2007. In May 2006, employers requested 1,957 workers. In May 2007, employers requested 8,186 workers.
Top Ten Source Countries Percentages for Canadian Temporary Foreign Workers (2006) are: Percentages of Temporary Foreign Workers by Province/Territory (2006) are:
United States 15.0 Ontario 44.7
Mexico 12.4 British Columbia 21.8
France 7.7 Alberta 13.5
Philippines 7.6 Quebec 13.1
Australia 6.6 Manitoba 2.1
United Kingdom 6.4 Saskatchewan 1.4
Jamaica 5.6 Nova Scotia 1.2
Japan 5.0 New Brunswick 0.8
Germany 3.6 t Newfoundland 0.6
India 3.4 NWT 0.2
PEI 0.1
Yukon 0.1
Nunavut 0

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