By Vivian Moreau
Foreign workers still can only work one year in Whistler but getting them here will be less complicated for employers, according to an announcement this week by Citizenship and Immigration Minister Monte Solberg.
Employers looking for foreign workers with high-demand skills will have hiring times cut back as a result of relaxed search procedures, Solberg said Wednesday, speaking to business leaders at Vancouver’s Trade and Convention Centre.
Normally, before an employer can bring in a foreign worker they must prove they have advertised extensively within for an extended period of time. Under new guidelines in regions that face critical labour shortages requirements for advertising positions across Canada can be reduced from four weeks to one.
Solberg did not make any much-anticipated announcements regarding extending work visa times for foreign workers. Hoteliers and businesses had been hoping for an extension from the current one-year time limit to two years. Although such an announcement did not happen, Solberg said the issue is high on his priority list, emphasizing that Wednesday’s announcement is a first step in changes to come.
“We plan to make significant changes to make it a lot easier to both get temporary workers, to keep them here, and ultimately to make them permanent residents down the road.” Solberg said.
“I am working on it and it involves several government departments and expenditures of monies so I need to talk with my cabinet colleagues and it’s one of many competing priorities, but we’re going to work hard at it,” he said.
“The prime minister is an Albertan,” he added, “and understands as well as anyone the impact of labour shortages, so we’ll work hard to use that influence on cabinet colleagues, that this is important to get done, not just for B.C. and Alberta, but for the country.”
Studies show that Whistler experiences a shortage of over 3,000 seasonal workers each year and foreign workers traditionally help to alleviate that void. Whistler hoteliers have complained that just when they get workers up to speed it’s time for them to leave because of one-year work visa time restrictions.
"I've had kids crying in my office because they didn't want to leave Whistler but had to because their one-year work visa was up," Four Seasons Resort Whistler’s general manager Scott Taber told Pique last year.