Town considers foreign workers to fill local labour shortage

·3 min read

The Town of Strathmore is considering working with local businesses to encourage foreigners to join the Strathmore community and fill vacant job positions.

Kevin Korpi, who owns two Tim Horton’s locations in Strathmore, and Usman Jutt, who owns the local McDonald’s, presented to the Committee of the Whole on April 13 to introduce the Alberta Advantage Immigration Program (AAIP).

The program was introduced by the provincial government earlier in 2022 as a way for municipalities to independently encourage foreigners to immigrate and occupy vacant jobs, instead of having to go through the federal government.

In Strathmore, according to the presenting delegation, there is a labour shortage in town and employers are experiencing difficulty hiring non-skilled workers.

“It’s locally controlled, we’re not relying on Ottawa to make the decisions on who is coming to town or if businesses are able to use this. We’re going to be able to make those decisions locally,” said Korpi. “On our own, we would work with recruiters, identify people who want to come … and attract foreign nationals.”

To get the program off the ground, the town would have to apply to the provincial government to be an “AAIP Community” and would require a three-person committee to administer the program.

Local businesses would work with international recruiters to find applicants, who would be offered a job, as well as an endorsement from the committee.

An applicant would then, upon being hired, come to Canada as an immigrant and automatically receive a provincial nomination for permanent residency.

It would be the responsibility of the employer to aid an immigrated worker to find adequate housing to reside within the community.

“This program allows for integration into the community from day one and we would be able to benefit from their families coming over and them being future citizens of Strathmore,” said Jutt.

As an AAIP community, the program would encourage immigrants to remain and settle in Strathmore with the assurance of being able to stay in Canada. The idea is that the AAIP would be a much simpler process than the current integration program.

“There’s going to be a lot of other towns and smaller communities applying for this. We want to make sure we had everything going, getting to (the town) as fast as possible so we could continue the pace of getting this to the next phase,” Jutt added. “What we didn’t want to do is have this stuck here, not getting in front of the town for another six months and by the time the workers get here, we’ve lost the summer (and) we’re at the end of the year, so we’d love to support the urgency.”

The delegation was seeking for the town to go ahead and begin the process of developing an application to submit to the province.

At the time of the presentation to the Committee of the Whole, the delegation had received eight letters of support from other local businesses in favour of the AAIP.

Town administration was instructed to return to council with a report suggesting how to proceed with an application to the AAIP.

John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times

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