Alberta open for immigrants

Jason Kenney, federal minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism recently spoke about how Alberta’s immigration rates are up, and exactly why.

“There has been a doubling of immigrants coming to Alberta over the past five years. These are people who are filling what would otherwise be labour shortages,” said Kenney.

The federal government’s focus is on economic growth, stability and prosperity,” he said. Kenney said these things are not possible to achieve if the work gaps aren’t filled within our labour market.

Part of Kenney’s trip out to the western provinces was to get advice from people as to how to go about filling the gaps in the labour market as well as to find out how people feel about the current rates of immigration.

“There is currently a labour shortage in Alberta. You just have to look at the help wanted signs. We try to respond through helping places find workers through the temporary foreign worker program as well as permanent workers.”

Kenney said Canadians can’t just rely on foreign workers to fill the gaps. He said we also need Canadians who aren’t working to get to work.

Part of the goal of the temporary foreign worker program is to help businesses that are growing find the employees they need to be able to fill contracts.

“We don’t want businesses to have to turn away contracts just because they can’t find workers.”

Kenney said some of the feedback he received included Canadians saying that they believe immigration levels are high enough.

“We want to make sure that we can integrate the folks who are coming here and that they’re getting good jobs and fitting in.”

The plans for immigration include no dramatic changes but a better capability to find the right mix of people with the right skills and being able to get them to where the jobs are.

Part of Kenney’s presentation included recognizing the hospitality of Albertans in accepting newcomers to the province.

“We do see a growing diversity in this province.”

Kenney said the government wants to see people immigrate here to contribute to our economy and workforce. Some of the changes ahead will include more closely aligning the immigration programs to the labour market needs.

“The immigration model shouldn’t be taking a professional from a developing country, depriving that country of that educated individual and bringing them here to face perpetual underemployment.”

Kenney said the ideal solution will be to find a way to invite educated professionals to get some form of certification from the licensing body before they get to Canada, so that they know they have a fair crack at being able to practice.

The future would reflect a business being able to find a skilled tradesperson in the foreign worker program and bringing them here to have them working within a week paying taxes and filling a gap in the economy, said Kenney.

“What we care about is where immigrants are headed and if they’re here to work hard and play by the rules, then they’re already Albertan.”