Workers and Employers Benefit from Alberta Pilot Program
For employers seeking to bring Temporary Foreign Workers to Canada, as well as the workers themselves, it is important that all parties are aware of the many available options to acquire a Canadian Work Permit. In particular, there are a number of provincial programs available that help facilitate the entry of Temporary Foreign Workers to Canada. These programs have been designed with each province’s specific needs in mind.
One such provincial program is the Alberta Occupation-Specific Pilot Program. It has been gaining popularity as a way of bringing in much-needed workers who have expertise in targeted skilled trades.
What is the Pilot Program?
The Alberta Occupation-Specific Pilot Program is a temporary program that is expected to run until July 31st, 2013. It is open to tradespersons in the following fields:
Heavy Duty Equipment Mechanics
Millwrights and Industrial Mechanics
Applicants to the program must have a job offer and, at minimum, an approval letter from Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training (AAIT). For those already working in Alberta, a job offer is not required as long as they are employed in a qualifying trade and have full certification from AAIT.
If successful, applicants with full trade certification receive a 2-year Open Work Permit. Normally, Work Permits are restricted to specific employers, and foreign workers wishing to change employers must apply for a new Work Permit. An Open Work Permit, on the other hand, allows workers to move freely between employers without the need to receive new documentation. Additionally, these Open Work Permits do not require that employers seek a Labour Market Opinion. A Labour Market Opinion is a document that most Canadian employers must secure when looking to hire a foreign worker for a position in Canada.
In addition to possessing the appropriate experience, applicants must be certified by AAIT or have other trade certification recognized by Alberta for their occupation. If workers are not yet AAIT-certified, they may apply for a one-year, employer-specific Work Permit. During their year of work, they may become certified and then apply for the two-year Open Work Permit.
Who Does the Pilot Benefit?
The Alberta Occupation-Specific Pilot Program has the potential to benefit not only employers and foreign employees, but the Canadian economy as a whole. Alberta is currently experiencing the greatest economic growth of any province in Canada. However, thousands of workers are needed to fill jobs and ensure that this growth continues. A large portion of these jobs are in skilled trades such as the ones covered by the Pilot Program.
“Alberta is facing some of the most acute labour shortages in the country,” said Immigration Minister Jason Kenney. “The expansion of this pilot project will enable more employers in Alberta to hire foreign workers on a temporary basis to fill short-term skills and labour needs when Canadians or Permanent Residents are unavailable.”
An Open Work Permit allows foreign workers to save time and reduce stress when moving to another job. Alberta employers will be able to benefit from this more readily available labour by filling job vacancies without the hassle of applying for a Labour Market Opinion, thus keeping their companies operating efficiently.
Foreign workers in many skilled trades work jobs that are often filled on a contract basis. Mandating that a new Work Permit be issued for each new contract is not a productive way to manage these much-needed workers. By allowing workers more freedom to move between employers, this program creates a win-win situation, where everybody benefits.
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