A key trade path between Western Canada and Asia could be compromised by staff shortages unless nearly 110,000 new skilled workers are found between now and 2025, according to a new report.
British Columbia will lose thousands of workers through retirement in the transport and construction industries, key positions in the maintenance of the Asia-Pacific Gateway and Corridor Initiative.
The Labour Market Outlook report by the Asia-Pacific Gateway Skills Table says the shortfall will need to be made up mainly by new Canadian university graduates (47 per cent), but also by skilled worker immigration.
The report concludes: “This is the first time the APG forecast has shown fewer jobs at the B.C. level for any of the sectors.
“While this could be mitigated by investments in the future that are not yet planned, it is important to recognize that this is a potential shift in the long term expectation for the construction sector and managers as well as 22 of the 52 occupations in B.C.’s Asia Pacific Gateway.”
The report also concludes that Lower Mainland and northern B.C. will have the most difficulties filling positions, especially between 2019 and 2023.
Streamlining the process of bringing in skilled workers is a key focus of the current federal government review of Canada’s immigration system.
Canada’s premiers feel they are too often fielding complaints from businesses saying they need more freedom to hire from abroad.
The federal government has already reached agreement with the four provinces of Atlantic Canada – Nova Scotia, Newfoundland & Labrador, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island – to welcome at least 2,000 more skilled worker immigrants per year from 2017. The quota could rise if the scheme is deemed a success.
The likelihood is a similar program could be launched in Western Canada following the federal review.
There was also recently a separate call from provincial premiers and territorial leaders to be given the same power to set their immigration policies as Quebec.
The French-speaking province has its own immigration programs and quotas as a result of the 1991 Canada-Quebec Accord.
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