Calgary Sun
February 20, 2007

Anne Howland
Sun Media

You’d think a booming Alberta economy would be just the ticket for immigrants in Canada looking for employment.

But an “antiquated” and “onerous” system is preventing businesses from hiring the people who could be – and want to be – doing the job.

“When hotels are asking you to make your own bed,” it shouldn’t be hard to figure out that jobs are going begging, said Garth Whyte, executive director of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.

Impractical solution

“One of our fastest growing problems is shortage of labour,” he said. “Immigration is one solution.”

But it’s a solution that is being made impractical for businesses that find thems elves bogged in paperwork or fed up with an overly complicated system, Whyte added.

The CFIB recently released a study showing that Canada’s immigration system isn’t much help.

“Sixty-eight per cent of small businesses expect the shortage of labour to get worse, but the immigration system does not come close to meeting the needs of smaller firms, particularly for trades and entry and medium level positions,” said Dan Kelly, CFIB’s vice-president for Western Canada.

The report showed that 91% of labour shortages faced by smaller firms are in nonprofessional categories, while 65% of economic immigrants are in the professional category.

“This means that Canada is not welcoming people with the skills businesses are asking for at a time when employers are desperately short of workers,” said Kelly.

Giving up

“In addition, the system is complicated, slow and frustrating. Many employers give up or don’t even bother trying to hire temporary foreign workers or permanent immigrants.”

A disturbing finding is that 38% of businesses surveyed are forced to function with fewer employees and ignore new business opportunities due to labour shortages.

Whyte said that officials at various levels of government have agreed with the CFIB report’s findings are hope to address the issues it raises.

Whyte stressed that steps such as making it easier for temporary foreign workers to become permanent residents and allowing spouses and teenage children of all to participate in the labour market would be important factors in integrating immigrants into the workforce where they are needed.

Top six cities

in terms of online job availability per working adult (December, 2006)

  1. Edmonton
  2. Calgary
  3. Kitchener
  4. Regina
  5. Saskatoon
  6. Vancouver

Top six provinces

in terms of online job availability per working adult (December, 2006)

  1. Alberta
  2. Saskatchewan
  3. Ontario
  4. Manitoba
  5. British Columbia
  6. Prince Edward Island

Source: Monster Employment

Reference: Calgary Sun