Feds Create New Program To Draw Tradespeople

The new stream for workers in fields such as construction and manufacturing should be set up later this year, says Immigration Minister Jason Kenney.

By Lauren Krugel, The Canadian Press (published on TheSpec.com)

Calgary — Ottawa has announced a new immigration program that it says will make it easier for Canadian businesses to hire the workers most urgently needed — skilled tradespeople.

The new stream for workers in fields such as construction and manufacturing should be set up later this year, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said 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,” Kenney said at the construction site of The Bow, a 58-storey downtown skyscraper that’s close to completion.

“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.”

The labour market in Alberta is already tight, with a bevy of multibillion-dollar oilsands projects on the go. A recent report suggested it’s only going to get tighter.

The Petroleum Human Resources Council of Canada has said the oilsands sector may need to double its workforce by 2021 to compensate for both the gap left by retiring baby boomers and fill the needs of new projects.

And that doesn’t include the ripple effects of that growth on the wider economy — like the need for new homes and offices to be constructed, or demand for more service industry staffers.

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