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Alberta lifts restrictions on hiring temporary foreign workers

Alberta lifts restrictions on hiring temporary foreign workers

The “Refusal to Process List” had almost 500 occupations on it at one point

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

Alberta employers are once again able to hire temporary foreign workers.

On May 1, the provincial government lifted restrictions on hiring new temporary foreign workers and removed all jobs from the “refusal to process list.”

“This supports sectors of Alberta’s economy that are experiencing labour shortages and struggling to fill available positions with Canadian workers,” a government release says.

The provincial government started to place limitations on hiring new temporary foreign workers in June 2020 in response to COVID-19 and to help Albertans find employment.

Occupations on the initial “refusal to process list” included industrial designers, civil engineers, multiple trades and managerial positions.

By November 2020, about 475 occupations were on the list.

Agriculture employment, however, was not affected by the restrictions.

Farm managers, general farm workers and other ag employment positions were listed under exemptions. As were caregiving positions located in a private household or a health care facility.

The federal government recently made changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.

The changes, announced April 4, allows employers in multiple sectors, including food processing, to hire between 20 and 30 per cent of their workforce through the temporary worker program.

Some people who represent food processing workers aren’t sold on the idea.

“I don’t think it really is going to solve labour shortages,” Thomas Hesse, president of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 401, which represents workers at meat processing facilities in Alberta, told CBC. “What it still does is hands the employer a very complicit and malleable workforce.”

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