Canada’s strong energy sector is pressing Ottawa to reform immigration regulations so that labour issues can be more easily addressed in the coming years.
The Alberta oil sector, propelled by billions of dollars worth of developments in the oilsands, could see a 77,000 worker deficit over the next decade according to predictions in a new report from Ernst & Young.
The federal government has already shown efforts to address the situation. Immigration Minister Jason Kenney has been meeting with employers and unions to discuss the situation and how to best utilize the temporary foreign worker program. One strategy that will be implemented is to raise temporary visa targets by 10,000 for 2012. Another tactic being weighed is to recruit more heavily from the pool of skilled trades workers in the United States.
“There is an enormous pool of people [in the U.S.] who have essentially the same skills that we’ve got,” said Bob Blakely, who works with the Building and Construction unit of the AFL-CIO. “They’ve worked for the same oil companies; they have basically taken the same training, and their cultural mores are largely the same.”
Experts say that the shortage in skilled trades is not just limited to the oilsands or the energy sector. All resource-based industries are predicted to see a spike in production in the near future while the available labour force shrinks. Workers from both the U.S. and abroad could help Canadian companies to keep up and meet the economic demands.
Source: Globe and Mail