Alberta’s Labour Shortage: Are Foreign Workers the Answer?

In response to the demographic pressures of the baby boom generation entering retirement and the labour market demands of Canada’s surging energy sector, the Government of Canada is using immigration policy to fill labour market demand.  Permanent resident programs are being reconfigured to focus on skills-based criteria for admission and temporary foreign worker (TFW) programs are being streamlined and expanded.  In the May 18 issue of Maclean’s, Laura Dawson comments on TFW programs that will make it easier for unemployed Americans (and others) to fill vacancies in the skilled trades in the Alberta oil patch.  Although politicians in other parts of Canada have been calling for a home-grown solution to labour market shortages, even with all domestic sources fully utilized, Alberta is still expecting a labour shortage of 140,000 workers.  TFW programs help Canada to deploy the skills it needs in the short-term, while putting in place the longer term education and social policies required to develop domestic labour pools in high-demand sectors.

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