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, Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2012