Prentice says foreign workers top of his list in 1st meeting with Harper

CALGARY — Alberta Premier Jim Prentice says labour policy, including temporary foreign workers, will top his agenda when he gets a chance to meet with Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

CALGARY — Alberta Premier Jim Prentice says labour policy, including temporary foreign workers, will top his agenda when he gets a chance to meet with Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Prentice served for years in Harper’s cabinet and wants to meet with the prime minister after dealing with provincial issues, including a byelection to get himself a seat in the Alberta legislature.

The federal government introduced new rules in June to limit the number of foreign workers that large- and medium-sized companies are permitted to hire. The changes are aimed at ensuring Canadians are first in line for jobs.

Prentice said the new rules are making it very difficult for some businesses to fill jobs and hopes to work with Harper on a solution.

“With the population pressure we’re under, with the job creation pressure that we’re under in this province, I’ve heard loud and clear over the summer from business people that the changes on temporary foreign workers are going to be very, very difficult,” Prentice said Monday.

Prentice said Alberta has accounted for almost all of Canada’s job growth yet receives only two per cent of the immigration nominees.

“That clearly can’t continue,” he said.

He said the answer might involve increasing the number of immigration nominees that are available or some sort of program to lure other Canadians to Alberta to fill the vacancies.

Other changes to the program announced by Federal Employment Minister Jason Kenney in June included tougher penalties for companies that violate the new rules and inspections to uncover abuses.

Kenney told The Canadian Press Monday that he won’t compromise on ensuring that employers don’t use the temporary foreign worker program as a cheap source of labour.

He downplayed how the program is affecting Alberta.

“When fully implemented in 2016, the Temporary Foreign Worker Program reforms will bar the admission of about 8,000 low-paid TFWs in Alberta, relative to last year’s admissions,” Kenney wrote in an email.

Kenney said that’s the equivalent of 0.3 per cent of Alberta’s labour force, which is growing by 100,000 per year.

He said there are too many people capable of working who are still not in the work force and that Alberta’s food services sector has become too dependent on temporary foreign workers.

“In the Alberta food services sector, wages have gone up by only one per cent a year over the past 8 years, versus two per cent for inflation and three per cent for all jobs in Alberta,” he said.

Just Posted

Women’s marches underway in Canadian cities, a year after Trump inauguration

Women are gathering in dozens of communities across the country today to… Continue reading

Red Deer councillor balks at city getting stuck with more funding responsibilities

Volunteer Central seeks municipal funding after being cut off by government

Olds chicken barn burns to the ground, no livestock harmed

More than 100,000 chickens were saved as fire crews prevent the blaze from spreading

Bear video meant to promote conservation: zoo owner

Discovery Wildlife Park says it will look at other ways to promote its conservation message

WATCH: Setters Place grand opening in Red Deer

Red Deer’s Setters Place officially opened to the public Saturday afternoon.… Continue reading

In photos: Get ready for Western Canadian Championships

Haywood NorAm Western Canadian Championships and Peavey Mart Alberta Cup 5/6 start… Continue reading

WATCH: Red Deer city council debates cost-savings versus quality of life

Majority of councillors decide certain services are worth preserving

Got milk? Highway reopened near Millet

A southbound truck hauling milk and cartons collided with a bridge

Stettler’s newest residents overcame fear, bloodshed to come here

Daniel Kwizera, Diane Mukasine and kids now permanent residents

Giddy up: Red Deer to host Canadian Finals Rodeo in 2018

The CFR is expected to bring $20-30 million annually to Red Deer and region

Ice dancers Virtue and Moir to carry flag at Pyeongchang Olympics

Not since Kurt Browning at the 1994 Lillehammer Games has a figure… Continue reading

Beer Canada calls on feds to axe increasing beer tax as consumption trends down

OTTAWA — A trade association for Canada’s beer industry wants the federal… Continue reading

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month