Temporary Foreign Worker Program Improved for Employers in Alberta and B.C.

Tourism sector to benefit from faster processing times

OTTAWA, ONTARIO – September 27, 2007 - The Honourable Monte Solberg, Minister of Human Resources and Social Development, the Honourable Colin Hansen, Minister of Economic Development and Minister responsible for the Asia-Pacific Initiative and the Olympics for British Columbia, and the Honourable Olga Ilich, British Columbia's Minister of Labour and Citizens' Services, this week announced improvements to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. These improvements will make it faster for employers in British Columbia and Alberta to hire foreign workers when there are no Canadian citizens or permanent residents available to fill the position.

In addition, the federal government and the Province of British Columbia are working together on the development of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that will strengthen protections for temporary foreign workers. A similar agreement with Alberta was announced in July.

The pilot project will allow eligible employers needing workers in 12 specific occupations to receive their Labour Market Opinions much faster than in the past. A Labour Market Opinion assesses the potential impact hiring a foreign worker will have on Canada's labour market. The 12 occupations in the pilot project have been identified as being in high demand, and include seven from the tourism sector:

  • Hotel and Hospitality Room Attendants;
  • Hotel Front Desk Clerks;
  • Food and Beverage Servers;
  • Food Counter Attendants;
  • Tour and Travel Guides;
  • Snowboard and Ski Instructors; and
  • Retail Sales Persons and Sales Clerks

As a result of labour shortages in the tourism sector, the Temporary Foreign Worker Program has become increasingly important for businesses trying to remain competitive in Canada's booming economy.

“As an employer with hotels in BC, Alberta and Northwest Territory and as the Business Co-Chair of the Canadian Tourism Human Resource Council, we recognize the significant step forward this MOU between Ottawa and Victoria represents,” said Graeme G. Barrit, President of Coast Hotels & Resorts. “It will allow for the smooth application of common processes all designed to help alleviate the labour shortage we face across the West.”

A federal commitment of $50.5 million over two years to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program aims to reduce processing delays, and respond more effectively to regional labour and skill shortages, so employers can better meet their human resource needs.