Alberta Suspends Immigrant Fast-Track Programmes

Alberta suspends immigrant fast-track programs

Two of five schemes for workers in province dropped as labour demand subsides

Josh Wingrove and Nathan VanderKlippe
Edmonton and Calgary
From Tuesday's Globe and Mail
Published on Monday, Aug. 23, 2010 7:04PM EDT
Last updated on Monday, Aug. 23, 2010 8:13PM EDT

Faced with a drop in demand for labour in the province, the Alberta government has suspended a pair of programs meant to fast-track immigration[] applications for foreign workers.

The province suspended two of the five streams of the Alberta Immigration Nominee Program (AINP), which last year recommended 4,216 applicants be granted permanent residency by the federal government[]. The two streams suspended Monday one for family of workers living here and the other for those holding U.S. visas accounted for 33 per cent of that total. Applications received before Monday will still be eligible.

The AINP program was introduced in 2008, and the government cited a slowing economy in its decision to temporarily cut off the two streams.

The economy is not what it was, Alberta Employment and Immigration spokeswoman Sonia Sinha said, stressing the move is temporary and could be reversed. The focus is on Albertans and Canadians, and jobs for them first.

Liberal immigration critic Hugh MacDonald said if the government wanted to preserve local job opportunities, it would stop accepting workers under the federal Temporary Foreign Worker program.

Effectively, the governments move Monday may open up more spots for such temporary workers, already in the province, to apply for and receive residency.

Im very glad to see the change, said Yessy Byl, a temporary foreign worker advocate with the Alberta Federation of Labour. What the government, I understand, is doing is concentrating on sponsoring nominees who are already here working, and that is the critical area.

As of last December, Alberta had about 65,000 foreign workers, more than half of them so-called low-skilled employees who work in meat-packing and manufacturing jobs. In recent years, those workers have had a difficult time obtaining permanent residency, since the province can only nominate up to 5,000 per year, and many of those spots went to skilled labourers.

But with the downturn in the economy, the cuts to ANIP make sense, said Peter Veress, the president of foreign-worker specialist company Vermax Group Inc.

This was a program designed for meeting a certain labour shortage, he said. We dont need that program any more.


Alberta changes Canadian immigration policy

Liam Clifford
Global Visas
August 24 2010

The government of Alberta Province in Canada has announced that it is making some changes to its immigration policies.

The local immigration minister, Thomas Lukaszuk, announced yesterday that the Alberta Immigration Nominee Program will no longer accept applications for two of its categories.

No further Canadian visas will be given out to applicants wanting to move to Alberta under the Family Stream category, which is used by family members of people living in Alberta. In addition, the US visa holder category has also closed its doors to new applications. This category was often used by people holding temporary US work visas who decided to look for work in Canada.

The changes have been made in light of the fact that some 1,400 people obtained Canadian visas through these two categories alone, of a total of around 4,200 moving to the region from abroad.

Lukaszuk claims that the change will ensure job openings go to locals first, and then to other Canadians, before being offered to Canadian work visa holders.

Over the past five years, Alberta has become home to the greatest number of temporary foreign workers in Canada, with 66,000 such immigrants living in the province at the end of 2009.