Province wants more permanent workers settling in the north

The BC Federation of Labour appears to be a supporter of the Provincial Nominee Program. Originally launched in April of 2012, the two year pilot project was then extended to the end of March, of next year.

It is back in the news locally, because Fort St. John has been approached by the province to consider developing a pilot which would focus on the attraction, settlement, retention and integration of immigrant families to the city.

Rather than being a search for temporary workers, it is a proposal to attract permanent residents to Northeast BC in an attempt to fill what has been described as the area’s skilled labor shortage.

Acknowledging this shortage of workers, the BC Federation of Labour has been putting pressure on the provincial government to redirect 25% of apprentices towards  public and LNG projects.

“Our very first priority should be jobs for British Columbians and Canadians,” President of the BC Federation of Labour Irene Lanzinger says. “We do have an unemployment rate at close to 6% and we are not doing as much as we should to train our own citizens in British Columbia to take these jobs.”

BC has a history of workers from other countries coming in, and Lanzinger says hiring foreign workers is an appropriate practice, so long as the government has looked after its own citizens first.

“If we have an excellent training program and we still don’t have enough BC workers, then, of course, it’s always appropriate to have an immigration system that allows workers to come here and have the full rights of other workers.”

City Council is now waiting for the completion of a staff report on the challenges and opportunities associated with a pilot program.