By Justina Reichel
Edmonton — Alberta’s immigration minister says retiring baby boomers and an economic boom predicted for western Canada has created “perfect storm” conditions for a severe labour shortage.
To ease that looming shortage, Thomas Lukaszuk wants Ottawa to allow more temporary foreign workers to remain in the country past the current four-year limit so that they can settle here on a permanent basis.
The temporary foreign worker program effectively trains workers in Canada, but when the workers’ visas run out they must leave for four years before being eligible to re-apply for another four-year term.
Many of them end up moving to other countries to settle, taking their skills and experience with them—something Lukaszuk finds problematic.
“We need more of a permanent solution,” he says. “Having our employers pay a lot of money for finding them, attracting them, training them, and then releasing them after four years so that they can go to Australia … is not investing in our economy.”