A temporary foreign worker pilot project to help employers in Alberta, Canada, to hire highly skilled foreign workers in certain in demand occupations is being expanded.

Alberta is facing one of the most acute labour shortages in the country and needs temporary foreign workers for positions that can’t be filled by Canadians or permanent residents, said Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney.

Alberta Minister of Enterprise and Advanced Education Stephen Khan said the expansion of the pilot project will allow more employers to hire foreign workers on a temporary basis.

Originally launched June 2011, under the Temporary Foreign Worker Annex to the Agreement for Canada-Alberta Cooperation on Immigration, the pilot project allows eligible foreign nationals to come to Alberta to work temporarily in a specific occupation.

It enables foreign workers to be issued a work permit that allows them to move freely between Alberta employers.

It was originally limited to steamfitters and pipefitters but now has been expanded to include welders, heavy duty equipment mechanics, iron workers, millwrights, industrial mechanics, carpenters and estimators.
‘Our consultations with Alberta employers and our own labour forecasts show there is a need to expand the pilot to include these high demand occupations,’ said Khan.

‘We appreciate the cooperation and support of our federal colleagues in working with us to help employers get the workers they need sooner,’ he added.
Kenney pointed out that to ensure the protection of the Canadian labour market, temporary foreign workers taking part in the pilot will be required to have an initial job offer from an Alberta employer or an employer acting on behalf of a recognized group of employers.

The job offer from the employer must indicate that the wages offered are consistent with the prevailing wage rate paid to Canadians in the same occupation in the region and that the working conditions for the occupation meet the current provincial labour market standards.

An applicant who has an approval letter from Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training (AAIT) for an application in the Alberta Qualification Certification Programme for one of the trades included in the pilot and an initial job offer for a position located in Alberta from an employer or a recognised group of employers, can apply between July 16, 2012, and July 31, 2013. If approved, they will be issued with a one year Work Permit that allows them to work in a specific occupation for one employer until the appropriate provincial certification is obtained.

An applicant who holds an Alberta Qualification Certificate or a trade certificate recognised in Alberta in one of the occupations included under the pilot and who is currently working for, or has a job offer from, an employer in Alberta, can apply between July 16, 2012, and July 31, 2013. If approved, they will be issued a two year occupation specific/open work permit that enables easy mobility in that specific occupation between employers in Alberta.