Britespan to address labour shortage with temporary foreign workers program

·3 min read

WINGHAM – Britespan Building Systems Inc. administrators Jenny Hogervorst and Stephanie Towton appeared as a delegation at the North Huron regular council meeting on June 6 to update council on the manufacturing company’s participation in the Temporary Foreign Workers (TFW) program.

The company is currently in the process of recruiting 12 TFWs – four skilled labourers for the welding and manufacturing team on a two-year contract, and eight general labourers on a one-year contract – to start later this year.

Hogervorst and Towton also expressed the importance of assisting the temporary workers settling in the community.

Britespan is currently having difficulties recruiting new hires, as are many companies in the region.

“The team has been diligently working on recruitment and retention…but in this past year it’s become urgent,” Hogervorst said.

The presentation mentioned several factors impacting the company’s hiring ability, including a smaller labour pool, a competitive local labour market, and “the overall drop in the labour market statistically as a whole.”

Citing Statistics Canada, the presentation said, “the Canadian manufacturing sector had a staggering 81,774 vacancies, directly impacting Britespan, which echoes (or only enforces) the local labour demand Britespan is facing.”

Ontario statistics say that fewer people are entering the workforce, “the anticipated gap between the Ontario population entering the workforce versus exiting the workforce leaves a shortage of 60,269 over the next five years and an additional 122,441 over the next 10 years, for a total shortage of 182,710 in the next 10 years.”

“To address these recruitment challenges and meet our expansion requirements, Britespan is participating in the TFW Program through the Government of Canada,” said the report.

“The TFW Program allows employers in Canada to hire a foreign worker when Canadians or permanent residents are not available. In 2020, TFWs made up less than 0.4 per cent of the Canadian workforce and will continue to make up a small percentage.”

The biggest problem with this is housing the foreign workers, which Reeve Bernie Bailey addressed, telling Hogervorst and Towton that the county is diligently working on this and that there would be a meeting held between municipalities to talk more about it.

The housing and the transportation to and from the factory were addressed. The pair told council that the workers already had that figured out; they would share a multi-bedroom house and have a van/bus they would all share to get back and forth to work and shopping.

The report concluded that, “participating in the TFW Program is a comprehensive and thorough process to ensure Britespan is doing everything it can to recruit locally prior to recruiting TFW.

“While being proactive to address the labour market challenges, Britespan’s recruitment process will always look for local hires first. Participating in the TFW Program allows Britespan to continue to grow operations locally within Wingham rather than outsourcing manufacturing and production.”

The anticipated start dates for Britespan’s selected TFWs are in four to six months.

Cory Bilyea, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wingham Advance Times

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