Ross Bannerman, the Associate Dealer of the Fort St. John Canadian Tire, has made a presentation to the Finance Committee of the Provincial Government, saying businesses are in need of help and feels that skilled and unskilled foreign workers would be a long term solution.
He feels this is a particularly relevant issue in Northeast B.C. specifically, as there is are far more jobs available than workers, and when there are workers present, they experience a high turnover rate.
According to Bannerman, the need for additional workers is extremely high. He says each of the next five years will demand roughly 270-730 workers and according to a CAPP report, oil patch job availability is expected to double in the upcoming year.
He even speaks form a personal perspective, saying he “doesn’t know of a single business that isn’t looking for workers.
Bannerman says that the winning ticket is attracting foreign workers who want to live and work in the north, and not attract local workers through the use of incentives; something he feels is not a permanent solution.
He says a useful way to set up a foreign workers system is to establish a regional Provincial Nominee Program (PNP). The program would look to identify foreign worker candidates and submit them for entry into Canada directly to a PNP process group, which would bypass the current Service Canada Labour Market Opinion process.
As a result, the new recruits would not only be new employees, but permanent employees allowing employers to fully commit to training programs and long term career incentives.
Some benefits Bannerman lists in his report include permanent, not temporary solutions, a reduction in business costs of operation, the elimination of the reapplication process which starts every year and the improvement of business execution and customer service.
Bannerman is currently working with the Chamber of Commerce, which is supportive of his idea and is developing a provincial policy proposal. He has already had discussions with Fort St. John MP Bob Zimmer and B.C. Senator Richard Neufeld.