Skilled Foreign Worker Project Approved: Fort St. John Mayor

August 20, 2015 News
Mayor Lori Ackerman (right) stands with Fort St. John Chamber of Commerce President Tony Zabinsky at the grand opening of STEP Energy Services' new office on Tuesday.   Photo By William Stodalka

Mayor Lori Ackerman (right) stands with Fort St. John Chamber of Commerce President Tony Zabinsky at the grand opening of STEP Energy Services’ new office on Tuesday. Photo By William Stodalka

A new pilot project to bring skilled immigrants to Fort St. John from outside of Canada is moving forward, according to Fort St. John Mayor Lori Ackerman.

Ackerman told various businesses about the initiative at the opening of STEP Energy Services new office Tuesday, where multiple energy service companies were gathered to celebrate.

These skilled workers would come from outside the country for skilled positions such as electrician and welders, “and whatever else is needed,” Ackerman said.

“We’ve received the nod from the province and the federal government to do this pilot project,” Ackerman said.

“It’ll be for Fort St. John… We’re looking forward to modernizing local government, bringing in the skilled workers, and growing our businesses.”

Ackerman had few additional details about the skilled worker programs, however.

“We’re working on it, and once we’ve got it all ironed out with all the details, it’ll gladly be public.”

Calls to the B.C Ministry of Jobs, Tourism, and Skills Training, and Citizenship and Immigration Canada, asking for further information about a possible pilot project were not returned as of press time.

Peace River North MLA Pat Pimm said that it was “a project that the B.C. government is trying to put together.”

“(Fort St. John) is one of the communities to be selected to look at this… skilled foreign workers program,” he said. “If there’s an opportunity to reach out and be able to bring in some of these foreign workers… I’m certainly 100 per cent in favour of it. I hope we can get it off the ground.”

Pimm said that a meeting on the subject was held “about a month ago.”

The foreign workers would go towards “all of our industry in our region.”

He was unsure whether or not these skilled trades people would be permanent immigrants or temporary foreign workers.

“We’re looking at trying to get field trades into whatever areas we need them,” he said. “The oil and gas industry, we really have problems getting to become part of the foreign worker program or whatever, because they don’t have real consistent hours.”

He said that because of this, they have not been able to access foreign workers similar to other businesses.

In 2011, Citizenship and Immigration Canada announced a pilot project for Alberta that would allow foreign nationals to come to Canada to work temporarily in specific occupations — such as welding, heavy-duty equipment mechanic, and carpentry — and move freely between employers, under certain conditions. This program was discontinued last year.


Epelma agot
August 21, 2015

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