June 30, 2020

The Premier of Alberta, Jason Kenney outlined an economic recovery plan on June 29th, to help the Province recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. His plan focuses on putting Albertansback to work immediately and start building highways, bridges and other projects. At the same time, there are plans to halt the use of TFW’sandreduce its participation in the Provincial Nomination Program (PNP) to ensure Albertans are first in line for jobs. According to Statistics Canada, there are currently more than 365,000 unemployed Albertans.

The province will ask the federal government to suspend a majority of the TFW programs for most job categories for 12 months. Many of these jobs will be in the food service industry, though there will be exemptions for specialized workers in the areas of caregiving, emergency response, hospitality in the mountain parks and agriculture, and the meat packing industry. An announcement will be made regarding these exemptions. The plans will also not impact TFW’s who are already in Alberta.

As far as the PNP program, the province will also reduce the number of permanent resident nominations it accepts by one-third, from 6,250 PNP’s to no more than 4,000 this year. To justify the suspension, the Premier stated “it is extremely difficult for me to justify employers looking outside Alberta, to bring people into the labour market in the midst of an unprecedented crisis”. He cites COVID-19 travel restrictions and the weakened economy to contribute to his decision.

While it is true that bringing immigrants into a province that is experiencing a recession will make it difficult for an immigrant to thrive financially, the problem with this decision is that many employers in the rural areas of Alberta have been unable to fill positions with local Albertans and this is why they have looked overseas. This will inevitably have an adverse effect on their business; however, the province will remain committed to its decision, with the hopes of increasing provincial immigration once the labour market has recovered.