Construction sector wants review of Canada's immigration program
05 September 2007
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Canadian construction interests are concerned that the country's points based immigration program is causing the industry to lag behind in searching for skilled labor, according to a report in the Daily Commercial News and Construction Record (DCNCR).
"We are losing out in the international search for the best skilled workers out there," he said. "We need to be more proactive in looking for labor talent."
Jeff Morrison, government relations and public affairs director for the Canadian Construction Association (CCA), put Australia's immigration program as an example of a forward thinking system.
"Australia uses its embassies and consulates to be proactive identifiers of skilled labor abroad, attending labor shows for instance," Morrison explained. "Canadian embassies should be looking to be more proactive as well."
The DCNCR reported that Australia brought in 142,930 foreign-born people during the 2005-06 year, with 97,340 of those being skilled workers. Immigrant construction workers and engineers reached 2,684 in Western Australia alone, an increase from 1,420 the year before.
Morrison said that Canada needs to ramp up its efforts and become more aggressive in recruiting skilled labor to keep up with other countries around the world.
The CCA requested Diane Finley, Canada's immigration minister, to review the points based system the country uses to assess migrant applicants.
However, in a response, Finley stated that a review of the points based system would be premature, but she agreed that there was a "growing skill shortage in the domestic construction sector".
"It would be beneficial to wait until a more complete picture can be drawn around the results of implementing a human capital model for skilled worker selection," said Finley.
Morrison said that even with recent improvements to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, more reforms were needed to bring more immigrant workers.
"The issue is the points system puts more of an emphasis on post-secondary education than usable, tangible skills," he said.
He stated that increased apprenticeship programs would not be helpful and that more foreigners were needed. He added that the Canadian construction industry is not just competing with other countries, but with the domestic labor market.
"Within Canada we are competing against different sectors," Morrison said. "We are all competing for the same workers in the same labor pool."