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Daily Herald Tribune
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A lack of local workers skilled in the trades has left some business owners having to look outside of Alberta and Canada to find employees to fill the gap.
“There’s not enough to fill the positions that are there so we have to bring workers from anywhere. There aren’t enough Canadians,” said Paul Holtz, owner of Millwright Machines Corp, a company that specializes in the repair of heavy equipment in Grande Prairie and has relied on immigrant workers in the past.
In past, the Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program meant foreign workers had to rely heavily on their employer to be nominated for permanent residency past their four-year temporary stay. If the employer had more than one immigrant on staff, sometimes they would have to choose one employee over another, as the program only approves so many immigrants for permanent status per year.
Recent changes to the program now means temporary foreign workers who have worked in Alberta for at least two years, can self-nominate to stay and work in the province permanently.
The changes, said Lena Bengtsson owner of Form Pro, gives more workers the option to apply for permanent residency.
“It’s a great program,” she said.
Bengtsson explained that workers can change companies or find another job, if they require more hours for example, and are still able to apply to the program for permanent status, as the program is no longer employer driven.
Holtz currently employs one immigrant worker from Germany. The man, he said, is a great asset to his work team and this new policy will help him and other employers keep their skilled workers, regardless of where they are from.
“If you have more than one (immigrant worker), you probably want to keep them all,” he said.
Holtz said he relies on immigrant workers because there aren’t enough people entering the trades, especially in the last few years. With the market taking off, he said it puts a real vacuum on the industry, as far as what is required for manpower.
The new changes, he said, is an excellent first step to keep workers his and other companies rely on in the area, as his employee is seeking permanent residency.
“It sounds like it’s going to work really well,” he said. “I know that they’ve been working on streamlining things. The system has been really clunky in the past and it sounds like they’re streamlining things, making it a little more efficient. Time will tell how it pans out.”
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